DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Robert Stevenson
Dean Jones, Michele Lee, Buddy Hackett
Writing Credits:
Bill Walsh, Don DaGradi

Struggling race car driver Jim Douglas finds a remarkable new vehicle: a tiny VW Bug named Herbie.

Rated G.

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 12/16/2014

• None


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Love Bug [Blu-Ray] (1968)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 11, 2023)

If nothing else, Disney always showed the remarkable ability to anthropomorphize inanimate objects. Usually that applies to cartoons, in which the devices can be given some form of human expression and emotion.

Surprisingly, the studio worked their magic equally effectively in a live action flick with 1968’s The Love Bug. There Disney turned an actual VW Bug into the film’s most expressive and charming character.

Down on his luck, unsuccessful race driver Jim Douglas (Dean Jones) receives pressure to move to a different job. As he passes a car dealership, he sees the shapely legs of Carole Bennett (Michele Lee) and enters the shop. Before this occurs, a little VW Beetle nudges Jim. Nothing more takes place until the next morning, when the police come to call on Jim and his wacky aspiring hippie roommate and sculptor Tennessee Steinmetz (Buddy Hackett).

It turns out that the Bug followed Jim home, so the police think he stole it. He accuses Thorndyke of running a con but grudgingly agrees to buy the car to keep himself out of the pokey.

We soon view clearly that the Bug has a mind of its own – and we also see that the Beetle really cranks, which gives Jim the idea to race it. This leads down a variety of wacky roads.

The Love Bug packs a surprising amount of emotion into that silly little car. Unquestionably Herbie offers the most charming and likable character in the flick, and director Robert Stevenson really allows the vehicle to become vivid and human.

The film forces the car into some silly moments like when it emulates urination on Thorndyke, but for the most part Herbie presents a vibrant and endearing character who allows the story to work. When he gets depressed due to Jim’s negative attitude, the flick really turns dark, and it’s hard to believe we care so much about a tiny auto.

This attitude contrasts with the almost total lack of sympathy engendered by Jones as Jim. Granted, the character needs to come across as something of a jerk during the film’s first half, as otherwise we wouldn’t get the opportunity for redemption that occurs later.

However, Jones doesn’t really pull off this change of heart. He never seems to buy into Herbie’s charm, and it still comes across as though he just wants to use the little car for his own means.

This coldness doesn’t actively harm the movie. Nonetheless, I’d have preferred a lead who demonstrates a little more warmth.

To my surprise, Hackett helps bring heart to the flick. He always annoyed me as a comedian, and he definitely offers a broad and hammy performance as the eccentric Tennessee.

However, he presents the film’s most sympathetic human and he really offers an endearing element of humanity to the goofy sculptor. His belief in Herbie seems touchingly sweet and charming, and he helps make the movie more successful.

Lee doesn’t stand out greatly as Carole, but she shows more spark than the average dull Disney female. Tomlinson also seems eminently hissable as the flick’s villain.

It’s hard to believe he’s the same guy who played the distracted but likable father in Mary Poppins, as he represents the perfect slimy opportunistic heel here. When we hear that he invented the concept of car contract fine print, it seems like the perfect touch.

Much of The Love Bug appears dated, especially in its goofy treatment of the San Francisco hippie scene, and too much of the comedy seems broad and silly. It also goes on too long, as at 108 minutes, it could have worked better if it lost about 15 minutes.

Nonetheless, the film gets by on sheer charm and warmth. I never thought I’d care so much about a crummy little car, but Herbie rules!

The Disc Grades: Picture B+ / Audio B-/ Bonus F

The Love Bug appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this Blu-ray disc. This became a surprisingly appealing image.

Sharpness usually appeared solid. Some wide shots came across as moderately soft, and the glimpses of a parade in Chinatown seemed bizarrely blurry. Otherwise, much of the movie looked tight and distinct.

Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and I also detected no problems with edge haloes. Grain felt light but natural, and I saw no print flaws.

Bug showed a natural palette that held up well. Matters could lean a little brown at times, but that appeared inherent to the source. Overall, colors appeared well-rendered.

Black levels were nicely deep and distinctive, while shadows came across as appropriately dense but not overly opaque. The Love Bug seemed generally satisfying.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Love Bug also seemed decent but unspectacular. For the most part, the soundfield remained oriented toward the front center speaker and it really came across like “broad mono” most of the time.

Music showed some spread to the sides, but it remained indistinct and didn’t display concise stereo imaging. Effects also portrayed moderate breadth to the non-centered channels, but these didn’t demonstrate much definition.

The racing scenes utilized the side and rears to a moderate level of effectiveness. Still most of the audio remained pretty well centered and didn’t manifest much life elsewhere.

Sound quality seemed fine for a film of this vintage. Speech seemed a bit thin and a little edgy at times, but the lines remained intelligible.

Effects presented fairly clean and accurate tones, with a modicum of bass impact as well. Music sounded somewhat flat but was acceptably distinct, and the score also demonstrated moderate low-end when appropriate.

Overall, the audio of The Love Bug didn’t do anything special. Nonetheless, when I considered the age of the movie, it worked well enough to merit a “B-“.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD from 2003? Though lossless, the Blu-ray’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 didn’t feel especially more impactful than the lossy DVD, and both came with virtually identical soundfields.

On the other hand, the Blu-ray boasted considerably stronger visuals. With improved delineation, colors and cleanliness, this turned into a substantial upgrade.

Whereas the 2003 DVD came with a slew of extras, the Blu-ray offers absolutely nothing.

Despite some dated elements, The Love Bug mostly holds up well after 55 years. The movie seems fun and the charming creation of its vehicular star makes it more involving than I expected. The Blu-ray presents solid picture and generally positive sound along with no supplements. A light and likeable little flick, I definitely recommend The Love Bug as fine family fare.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of THE LOVE BUG

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main