Don't confuse this movie with the 1919 silent comedy "the Love Bug" or the the 1932 Disney cartoon, "Bugs in Love". This is the Love Bug from 1969 and it's about a Volkswagon Bug that has intelligence, emotions and the ability to not only control itself but also outrun cars that aren't typically outraced by economy cars.
The opening credits are imposed over scenes of one of those auto smash up derby events. We are introduced to Dean Jones, who starred in Blackbeard's Ghost. and we discover that he's a washed up racecar driver. He lives with his mechanic, played by Buddy Hackett. Herbie the automobile falls in love with Dean Jones and follows him home. There are lots of ha-ha-hilarious scenes where people are totally surprised and confused as to how dat car do dat. The car does things that make people do double takes and there are some appearances by safe, cartoonish hippies. Then the rest of the movie seems like it's a series of car races in which Herbie, the name of the Volkswagon, wins. I think the audience was supposed to be amazed and tickled at the sight of a Volkswagon lapping all kinds of sporty race cars. I don't get it myself. Eventually the rich, snooty and moustachioed villain sabotages our guys but somehow they come out ahead or something.
Like Blackbeard's Ghost there's a scene where the hero gets pulled over by a motorcycle cop and his motorcycle gets trashed. Blackbeard drove off on the policeman's motorcycle. Herbie shoves a motorcycle offf of a cliff.
This movie baffles me. The jokes are fine for a family film from this era and the actors are all good but why are people so into cars? Why is it so funny to see a Volkswagen beat race cars over and over again? I don't remember if I fell asleep before the movie ended or not. It is so boring.
Strangely it spawned sequels (Herbie Rides Again, Herbie goes to Monte Carlo, Herbie Goes Bananas, Herbie the Matchmaker) a tv series in 1982, a made for tv remake in the 90s and the recent Lindsey Lohan remake with that title,"Fully Loaded". There was even a televised Herbie Day at Disneyland in 1974.
Out there there must be millions of people who would say that the Love Bug is one of their favorite movies. The Love Bug was the highest grossing film of 1969. Thinking about that makes me cringe.
4 of 10.