In England, circa 1910, eccentric Caractacus Potts works as an inventor, a job which barely supports himself, his even more eccentric father, and his two children, Jeremy and Jemima; but, they're all happy. When the children beg their father to buy for them their favorite plaything - a broken down jalopy of a car sitting at a local junkyard - Caractacus does whatever he can to make some money to buy it. One scheme to raise money involves the unexpected assistance of a pretty and wealthy young woman they have just met named Truly Scrumptious, the daughter of a candy factory owner, but Caractacus eventually comes into another one-time-only windfall of money, enough to buy the car. Applying his inventing skills, Caractacus transforms the piece of junk into a beautiful working machine, which they name Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from the noise its engine makes. At a seaside picnic with his children and Truly, Caractacus spins a fanciful tale of an eccentric inventor, his pretty girlfriend, ...Written by
Huggo / edited by statmanjeff
A delightful fantasy for the whole family to watch. There really is something for everyone here. A cartoonish story with "comic book characters" like the "Child Catcher" (Robert Helpmann) and "Baron Bomburst" (Gert Frobe) that the kids will love, and some marvelous song and dance routines from Sally Ann Howe as "Truly Scrumptious" and Dick Van Dyke as the inventor "Caractacus Potts" that the grown ups will marvel at. I never realized until I watched this movie as an adult what a marvelously talented man Van Dyke is, but his dance scenes are absolutely amazing (particularly "The Old Bamboo" performance at the carnival.)
The story is imaginative. A flying car whisks Truly and Caractacus, along with the two Potts children Jeremy and Jemima (Adrian Hall and Heather Ripley respectively) off to the fictional kingdom of "Vulgaria" (where children are forbidden) to rescue eccentric Grandpa Potts (played absolutely perfectly by Lionel Jeffries), who has been kidnapped by Bomburst in the mistaken belief that he's the inventor of the car. This was one of my favorite movies as a kid, and you have to think like a child to watch it and appreciate it as an adult. Until today I had never actually seen the movie unedited, and I found it just a delight.
It's true that there are weaknesses. Although Dick Van Dyke put on a marvellous performance, he ironically seems totally out of place with his American accent. I truly can't figure out how Caractacus' father can have a British accent, and Caractacus' children can have British accents, but Caractacus himself has an American accent? It's something you wouldn't notice as a kid, but as an adult I found it somewhat distracting. Also, Hall and Ripley didn't blow me away (I know - give them a break; they were just kids. Still, I've seen better performances from children that age.)
But why nitpick. Suspend disbelief, think like a kid, sit back and enjoy the ride.
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