5.7/10
3,993
36 user 4 critic

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976)

The girl next door makes a teen born with immune deficiencies want to leave his germ-free bubble.

Director:

Randal Kleiser

Writers:

Douglas Day Stewart (teleplay), Joe Morgenstern (story) (as Joseph Morgenstern) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Travolta ... Tod Lubitch
Glynnis O'Connor ... Gina Biggs
Robert Reed ... Johnny Lubitch
Diana Hyland ... Mickey Lubitch
Karen Morrow ... Martha Biggs
Howard Platt ... Neighbor
Buzz Aldrin ... Buzz Aldrin
Ralph Bellamy ... Dr. Gunther
John Friedrich ... Roy Slater
Kelly Ward ... Tom Shuster
Skip Lowell Skip Lowell ... Bruce Shuster
John Megna ... Smith
Vernee Watson ... Gwen
Darrell Zwerling ... Mr. Brister (as Darryl Zwerling)
P.J. Soles ... Deborah
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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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Born with no immunity against disease, he lives in a plastic prison. Inside he is protected. Outside, there is the chance of death. But the chance of love.


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 November 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Two years later, Travolta & Kelly Ward would co-star in Grease as Danny Zuko (Travolta) and Putzie (Ward) See more »

Goofs

Todd swallows the eye from his Teddy bear. the parents run down to get Todd to cough up the plastic eye to save him from choking. the scene fades to black. there is no scene that actually shows them removing the plastic eye from the chamber, so Todd is free to swallow it again. 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.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Perfect Strangers: Lethal Weapon (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

What Would They Say
(uncredited)
Composed by Paul Williams
Sung by Paul Williams
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Touching story marred by unclear ending
4 January 2005 | by leczornSee 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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