Love Bug (1968), The

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Short takes

Not suitable under 5; parental guidance to 6 (reckless behaviour, alcohol and tobacco consumption, dated stereotyping)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Love Bug (1968), The
  • a review of Love Bug (1968), The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 July 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable due to reckless behaviour, alcohol and tobacco consumption, and some dated stereotyping; may also lack interest.
Children aged 5–6 Parental guidance recommended due to reckless behaviour, alcohol and tobacco consumption, and some dated stereotyping.
Children over the age of 6 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Love Bug (1968), The
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Contains tobacco depictions
Length: 107 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Jim Douglas (Dean Jones), a burnt-out racing driver, draws new hope at reviving his career when he stumbles across a little Volkswagen Beetle that appears to have a mind of its own and a talent for racing. At first, Jim struggles with the strong-willed vehicle but Jim's faithful friend and supporter, Tennessee (Buddy Hackett), is convinced that they have indeed found a very special treasure, and he names the Beetle, "Herbie". And indeed, Jim and Herbie start making headlines, winning several local races. Things become more complicated when Peter Thorndyke (David Tomlinson) – the car salesman who sold Herbie to Jim and who is also a successful racer – wants to get Herbie back. As Jim refuses, Thorndyke is determined to sabotage and beat the team, and, if this wasn't enough to handle, Jim and Thorndyke have both fallen for Thorndyke's sales assistant and mechanic, Carole (Michelle Lee).


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Car Racing; Action; Adventure; Humour; Disney Classic.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • If Herbie does not get his way, he takes over, leaving the drivers getting thrown around in the car.
  • Thorndyke viciously feeds Herbie Irish coffee to make him unfit for a race.
  • Herbie gets frustrated and jealous when Jim buys a different car. He bangs into it, totally destroying it. Jim then gets angry at Herbie and beats him with a shovel.
  • Thorndyke ruthlessly bumps Herbie off the road, with Jim, Carole, and Tennessee inside.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • After a fall-out with Jim, Herbie makes a suicide gesture, threatening to drive off the Golden Gate Bridge. In an attempt to stop him, Jim nearly falls to his certain death.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Volkswagen Beetle.
  • Lamborghini.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • When a lady from a diner thinks that Jim and Carole are hugging inappropriately, she suggests that Jim and Carol should, "park at Seabreeze Point", and it is implied that this is a popular place for couples to go to ‘make out’ in their cars.
  • Herbie, who wants to bring Carole and Jim together, drives them to Seabreeze Point, and they are seen kissing each other on the mouth.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Some characters are seen smoking cigarettes.
  • Tennessee offers Thorndyke his home-made Irish coffee (coffee with Whiskey and whipped cream) and they finish the bottle in one sitting, leaving them both drunk, stumbling, and slurring their words.
  • Thorndyke wants Herbie to lose a race the next day and pours Irish coffee in his tank. Consequently, Herbie is in poor form the next day, loses the race and collapses. Tennessee realises that Herbie is ‘hungover’.
  • Thorndyke wants to celebrate a suspected win while still driving the race, and gets his assistant to pour some wine.

Coarse language

  • None noted.

In a nutshell

The Love Bug is a 1968 Disney classic and the first film of the ‘Herbie’ series. Parents and children need to consider and acknowledge that this film was made over 50 years ago, and that some of the humour, often derived from cultural stereotypes, is dated (for example the stereotypical depiction of Asians, or Thorndyke belittling Carole, not recognising her talent and independence). Nevertheless, strong-willed and quirky little Herbie can surely still win the hearts of a family audience, and there are some positive messages to be taken away. Best suited to families with children over 6.

The main messages from this movie are that pride goes before a fall, and that being part of a good team is priceless.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Teamwork
  • Friendship
  • Admitting mistakes
  • Being inventive
  • Never giving up.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Reckless behaviour: Herbie is short-tempered, drives recklessly, and causes damage in the process.
  • Betting: Several characters lose out because they get a thrill from betting.
  • Being a bad sport: Thorndyke pulls several mean tricks to push his component out of the way but he pays for it and loses out in the end.