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The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976)

TV Movie  |  PG  |   |  Biography, Drama, Romance  |  12 November 1976 (USA)
5.7
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 3,136 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 3 critic

Based on a true story, Tod Lubitch is born with a deficient immune system (which is unlike being born with AIDS). As such, he must spend the rest of his life in a completely sterile ... See full summary »

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(teleplay), (story) (as Joseph Morgenstern) , 1 more credit »
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Title: The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (TV Movie 1976)

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (TV Movie 1976) on IMDb 5.7/10

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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Diana Hyland ...
Karen Morrow ...
Howard Platt ...
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John Friedrich ...
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Skip Lowell ...
John Megna ...
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Gwen (as Vernee Watson)
Darrell Zwerling ...
Mr. Brister (as Darryl Zwerling)
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Storyline

Based on a true story, Tod Lubitch is born with a deficient immune system (which is unlike being born with AIDS). As such, he must spend the rest of his life in a completely sterile environment. His room is completely hermetically sealed against bacteria and virus, his food is specially prepared, and his only human contact comes in the form of gloved hands. The movie follows his life into a teenager. Written by Afterburner <aburner@erols.com>

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Release Date:

12 November 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bubble Trouble  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During filming, John Travolta and 40-year-old Diana Hyland began dating and eventually fell in love, despite the fact that Hyland was nearly 18 years older than Travolta. She was still in the process of getting divorced from Joseph Goodson when she passed away on Sunday, March 27th, 1977, four months after their TV movie's broadcast, and while Travolta was filming "Saturday Night Fever." See more »

Goofs

Tod Lubitch is assigned a "bubble" roommate, Roy Slater, who has not been outside or in contact with the outside world for months. However, when Slater jumps on his bed, the soles of his bare feet are filthy. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Ernest Gunther: May we have the air conditioning ducts and heat vents closed, please. And no movement while the air settles down. Anybody down there planning on having an itch, please scratch it now. Not later, please.
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Connections

Referenced in Psych: Let's Doo-Wop It Again (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

What Would They Say
(uncredited)
Composed by Paul Williams
Sung by Paul Williams
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User Reviews

 
Touching story marred by unclear ending
4 January 2005 | by (Indianapolis, Indiana, USA) – See all my reviews

During one of my frequent raids of the $1 DVD bins, I found this 1976 made for TV movie. When reading the synopsis on the package I saw that it was "based on a true story" of a boy named Tod Lubitch (played by John Travolta) who was born without an immune system and had to live in a sterile environment. That brought to my mind a Houston boy named David Joseph Vetter III who was in the news a lot when I was growing up. David had the same problem, lived in the same environment and died at the age of 12.

Upon my research I discovered that this movie is fictional. There was no Tod Lubitch. "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble" was inspired by the aforementioned David but isn't about him. $1 DVDs have a bad habit of providing false information and the "true story" claim is yet another example, as is the cover photo of Travolta, which appears to be only a few years old. He was actually in his early 20s when this movie originally aired.

Now for the movie. After spending a few minutes each showing Tod's life as an infant and a four year old - when he begins spending some time at home, where a sterile room is set up for him - the remainder of the movie shows him around the age of 17.

Despite the way he's forced live, Tod is a happy kid who has a close relationship with his parents. But he holds out hope that someday his body will build up enough immunities for him to leave his sterile environment.

Gradually, Tod is able to live a more normal life. He is sometimes wheeled outside in a protective cart. He participates in high school through televisions and cameras set up in his room and the classroom. And later he begins attending school in person by wearing a protective suit much like one an astronaut wears. Tod actually blends in fairly well with the other students. He is a victim of some insensitivity but not a lot and he ends up graduating.

As the movie progresses, Tod falls in love with classmate and next door neighbor Gina Biggs (Glynnis O'Connor). In one scene about midway through the movie, she pretends to express romantic interest in him but then he realizes she was just trying to win a bet with two of her male friends, which devastates Tod. But she later has a change of heart and falls for Tod, too.

This leaves Tod with a monumental decision - continue to remain in his sterile environment, in which is only human contact is gloved hands, or risk his life to be with Gina.

For the most part, I like this movie. It tells a bittersweet story in a very moving way. Travolta's performance is convincing and he shows great signs of things to come. I found myself feeling really sorry for Tod. The supporting cast is also strong and includes the late Robert Reed ("The Brady Bunch") as Tod's father, Johnny Lubitch. I think this is the only role I've ever seen Reed play other than Mike Brady. He displays good serious acting skill.

But the movie is marred by its unclear ending. And I noticed one other significant flaw - in a scene in which Tod's protective suit runs out of oxygen, he rushes into the sterile section of his classroom, aided by classmates, and takes the suit off inside. It seems to me that the outside of the suit would be carrying germs, which would contaminate the sterile section and open Tod to germs that very well might kill him.

The technical quality of the DVD that I have isn't great and looks like it might have been a direct transfer from a master tape that had been sitting on a shelf for years. But the quality is decent enough to watch comfortably.

Overall, this is a very good movie that is well worth the dollar. 7/10.


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