Chitty has always eluded my viewing as a child. I can honestly say that I’m OK with that. I did recognize many of the songs that I’m sure those who grew up with it love. But as an adult seeing it for the first time 45 years after it came out, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG comes across as a drug induced MARY POPPINS rip off.
Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke) is an eccentric inventor with two children, Jemima and Jeremy. Potts purchases a broken down car, fixes it up and takes it for a ride with the kids and the daughter of a candy factory owner, Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes). Yes this is the woman’s name. During a stop at the beach (and a very uncomfortable song of Truly singing to the children that they are truly scrumptious) Potts begins a story that takes over the entire second half of the film. A grumpy Baron is after their flying magical car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, that gets its name from the sound it makes. Trust me, it’s tough to forget because you will be singing it for days. When they end up in faraway land of Vulgaria where the Baron lives they must get their car, grandpa and children who have been kidnapped because kids are not allowed. Everything in this town has creepy adult toy vibe.
So as you can see the plot makes no sense. Ian Fleming wrote the novel from which the script is based on, that is a far cry from his James Bond series. It’s a bit like a Family Guy episode with random events occurring constantly without any real story line. Ironically, like just about everything, Family Guy has parodied CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. There is a strangeness that does not seem natural without some use of substance influence. The second half of the film is where it gets very strange as only an imagination contributing no value to the earlier storyline. It’s two parts scary and boring. I’m not sure how that is pulled off but CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG does it with flying cars…er colors. Overall, it came across as a poor man’s MARRY POPPINS without purpose.
On a positive note, Dick Van Dyke has got to be one of the most charismatic charming fellas in the history of cinema. He gives off a comforting vibe that makes you feel warm inside. Using physical humor to its peak, Van Dyke is a master at the comedic song and dance. The songs are in overdrive happening about every five minutes. Some are great and some are…not.
Those who grew up and loved this film will love the Blu-ray edition. But if you haven’t seen it, you’ll probably be OK never seeing it. I am leaning on the positive because of most of the song and dance numbers by Mr. Van Dyke. Plus, all the ridiculous absurdism has its own charm.
Video: (Widescreen 2.20:1) The picture is exceptionally clear.
Audio: (7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) A terrific sound for all speaking levels and songs.
Sing Along: This option provides all the words during the songs Karaoke style. The viewer can choose an option to play during the movie or skip to specific songs.
Chitty Chitty’s, Bang Bang, Driving Game: A game steering the car that has less quality than the Atari. I don’t get why studio’s put these games on here, I’ve never heard of a kid playing them. They do realize we are probably playing these on a PS3 now don’t they?
Toot Sweet Toots Musical Maestro: Another toy like feature where kids can play during the Sweet Toots song by pushing the color-coded buttons.
Remembering Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with Dick Van Dyke (25:58): An extensive interview with the legendary comedic actor. He is extremely charming and likable and a joy to watch.
A Fantasmagorical Motorcar (9:44): Pierre Picton, owner of the car Chitty, speaks about owning the vehicle and how he was approached to use his motorcar and what he does to keep it in shape for tours. He is very proud and a little nutty. Little kids infatuated with the car might enjoy the detail.
Sherman Brothers’ Demo (30:20): This is strictly audio of writers Richard and Robert Sherman performing all of their songs during pre-production of the film.
The Ditchling Tinkerer (10:07): A short documentary about the real Caractacus Potts in which the character was based upon. The real Potts explains his love for his inventions and gadgets that he created for the film.
Dick Van Dyke Press Interview (8:48): In this on-set interview, Van Dyke is very charming and candid answering basic questions along with a few unusual ones including film, television, divorce, food and fashion.
The Potts Children’s Featurette (3:06): A vintage featurette narrated by the kids talking about working on the film. This was an odd staged promotional bit using children.
Photo and Vintage Advertising Gallery: Several on set photos, two original trailers and five TV spots promoting the film.