June 25, 2010

Dean Jones Made My Baby Cry

A week with the cousins forced me to realize the kid is severely under-movied. So I decided that summer school would be home school film school, and in exchange for getting to watch more than 22-minutes of TV, plus or minus some YouTube clips, the kids would let me choose what they watched yesterday.


First up: a classic, The Love Bug. [The original 1968 version, obviously, not the 2005 Lohan-ization.] It began well enough, though the kid was confused then amused when the father from Mary Poppins showed up.

But then, damn you, Dean Jones, why'd you have to go and hurt Herbie's feelings like that by buying that Lamborghini? The kid was seriously devastated. I mean, head-in-pillow sobs. We finally had to put it on pause and talk it out, and it was all I could do to persuade her that I was sure everything would all turn out alright. That's how movies worked.

Meanwhile, I kept all my pain and hurt inside. What a fantastically awful hackjob of filmmaking that thing is. Seriously, WTF, Disney repertory crew? I tried to figure out if it was the awful editing and timing that missed emotional notes, suspenseful plot points, and slapstick punchlines alike.

Or maybe the editor, Cotton Warburton, was just trying to salvage a film from the near-useless footage Robert Stevenson turned in.

Or maybe Stevenson was trying to make the most out of Bill Walsh's and Don DaGradi's hamfisted script that really, really needed several more drafts--or even a readthrough--before they started rolling.

And that's when I realized it's not just David Tomlinson, but the entire production team who came over from Mary Poppins, as tight and well-made as almost any live-action Disney film has been. Editor Warburton even won an Oscar for it.

So what happened? Why did these obviously talented filmmakers turn in such a sloppily crafted piece of work like The Love Bug? [I mean, just look at'em, even the cast is dumbfounded.]

This is exactly like watching A Charlie Brown Christmas Special as an adult and realizing, not only was it made for Coca-Cola, it had the horrible pacing and dialogue that comes from stringing a bunch of crappily animated, three-panel comic strips together.

On the other hand, I now have a better appreciation of Vince Guaraldi. And for all its faults, The Love Bug's racing and demolition derby montages did feel like BringATrailer.com: The Movie. Nevertheless, we cannot trust our childhood memories on these things, because chances are, we were quite clueless at the time.

You could buy The Love Bug on DVD, or better yet, just click through to Amazon and buy anything else so DT can get a kickback. [amazon]

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