41 user 6 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.


Randal Kleiser


Douglas Day Stewart (teleplay), Joe Morgenstern (story) (as Joseph Morgenstern) | 1 more credit »
4,290 ( 160)
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »




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


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


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.


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The boy in the plastic bubble, Tod Lubitch (John Travolta) suffered from immune deficiencies. Actor Robert Reed, (who played his father in the film) would later die on May 12, 1992 from complications of AIDS. See more »


While the first scene is set in 1959 actor Robert Reed wears a wide leather wristwatch band (sometimes called a full cuff 'Bund' band) which was very popular in the 1970s but rarely seen in the 1950s. See more »


Johnny Lubitch: [to his wife] There were never two people in the world that were more meant to be parents than you and me.
See more »


Version of Bubble Boy (2001) See more »


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

User Reviews

Well, I made it all the way through... that's something
30 September 2013 | by irishmSee all my reviews

I remember watching this on TV the first (only?) time it was run. I don't remember why I watched it; although I was a teenage girl when he was at the height of his popularity, I was never a Travolta fan and never got the hype about him. (One English class assignment in the 9th grade was to watch "Welcome Back Kotter" with the sound off and try to follow the story... I complained long and loud about having to waste a valuable half-hour of TV time watching "Kotter", although I'm sure the teacher chose it because almost everyone would have been watching it anyway.)

I found the film on streaming last weekend and watched it again for a nostalgia buzz; discovered that the only thing I remembered was a few bars of Paul Williams' song at the end (never got the hype about Williams either). Strangely, the streaming version seems to have the same flaws other reviewers have mentioned about their DVDs; at times it squiggles up like I remember VHS recordings doing when they'd been over-watched or stored improperly.

I guess the biggest problem I had with this film overall was the almost complete lack of tension. Todd seems reasonably content to stay in his bubble, with only occasional displays of frustration or unhappiness at his isolation. Okay, if he's fine with it, let's leave him in there and go make a movie about someone who throws hissy fits; it's more interesting. (Well, Todd did have one hissy fit... but it seemed over the top and out of place since he was so placid the rest of the time.)

The supporting cast was kind of cool... you get to see P.J. Soles who was in "Carrie" (with Travolta), and Kelly Ward and Darryl Zwerling who were in "Grease" (with Travolta).

Inconsistent, dull, simplistic. If it had a different actor in the lead I don't think I would have liked it any better, so I'm not hanging all the blame on Barbarino. There just isn't much here substance-wise.

P.S. Add me to the list of people who are positive that's a sailboat, not a mysterious white-robed figure, in the background at the end... although I'll admit it gave me a start and I said out loud "what the heck is THAT?" before figuring it out.

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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:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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