Anthony's Film Review
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
A comedy musical that is delightful and fun for the whole family...
During the 1960s, there was one genre of film that seemed to hold the people's interest for a while: the musical. I can easily identify two examples: Mary Poppins in 1964 featuring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, and The Sound of Music in 1965 also starring Julie Andrews. Years later, Dick Van Dyke would star in another notable musical film: the 1968 family film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, based on the children's story by Ian Fleming. (Yes, Fleming is the same man who created James Bond. In fact, Bond film producer Albert Broccoli is the producer for this musical, Goldfinger's Gert Frobe has a major role here, and even Q's Desmond Llewelyn has one scene.) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a film that is simplistic, but that's what makes it delight people of all ages.
Dick Van Dyke plays an eccentric inventor named Caractacus Potts, who is so obsessed with his work that he doesn't even bother to send his daughter Jemima (played by Heather Ripley) and son Jeremy (played by Adrian Hall) to school. This comes as a shock to a woman named Truly Scrumptious (played by Sally Ann Howes), a stranger who nearly runs over the two children on the road with her car. This chance meeting ultimately leads the four into a fun and exciting adventure.
The movie is a little over 2 hours and 20 minutes long, and about the first 50 minutes is dedicated to Potts's efforts to be successful in something. Afterwards, he purchases an old car, fixes it up, and gives it a glamorous makeover. While the car looks very nice, its engine still makes some noise, in a rather rhythmic fashion. Immediately, the car is named "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" because that's the noise it makes. While Potts takes Truly, Jemima, and Jeremy around in the new car, they encounter the evil Baron Bomburst (played by Gert Frobe) who wants to take that car for himself, because it's no ordinary car. It has the ability to float on water and fly in the air.
The plot is thin overall and only serves as a context for the real heart of the film: musical numbers. As an example, there is a fun and lively musical sequence early in the film that is set at a candy factory. Potts tries to convince the candy factory owner to buy his invented candy, a tube-shaped treat that can double as a flute, and eventually inspires a musical number where everyone on the factory floor is participating. It ends on a funny note when Potts attempts to lead an orchestra with people blowing the flute candy, but ends up attracting many dogs that storm into the factory and cause real havoc.
Dick Van Dyke is definitely someone who partly steals the show. He is talented as an actor in both comedies and musicals, because he can make you laugh with his comical antics and wow you with his finesse in singing and dancing. The rest of the cast is just as good with comedy and/or music, and I'm not just talking about the four main characters. This also goes for various supporting characters, including Lionel Jeffries as Grandpa Potts and two bumbling spies whom Baron Bomburst orders to steal Chitty (but fail twice by capturing the wrong people).
Really, the only reason that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a fun movie is because it delivers lighthearted humor and music. To dismiss this film because the plot and characters are simple, or because Dick Van Dyke is an American actor not speaking with a British accent here, is to overlook the purpose of this movie: delight adults and children alike. That's all it is. If you want a movie for family entertainment, this one is a good choice. After seeing it, you will likely sing its memorable song: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we love you."
For more information about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, visit the Internet Movie Database.