Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Genres - Fantasy, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Family-Oriented Adventure, Musical Fantasy  |   Run Time - 145 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - G
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By the end of the 1960s, the financial failure of big-budget films like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang started the final descent of the traditional film musical. However, while it is hardly a classic, it is fondly remembered by many who grew up with it. The basic story ingredients -- crackpot inventor, beautiful love interest, magic car, exotic settings -- are perfectly fine, but somehow the mixture fails to gel. Part of the problem is the tone of the film, which is often overly arch or cloying. Much of the dialogue just doesn't work, and the film is much too long and never as inventive as it needs to be. The score is very hummable, with many numbers -- the title song, "Truly Scrumptious," "Hushabye Mountain," "Toot Sweets" -- that stay with the audience long after the movie is over. Although the kids are a bit much, Dick Van Dyke is appealing and handles the material well; his dancing is, as always, delightful. Sally Ann Howes is a lovely and charming Truly, and Anna Quayle makes the most of her brief supporting role. As the Child Catcher, Robert Helpmann is perhaps too disturbing for little ones. The special effects are not very impressive, but the scenery is quite attractive. There's enough here to make the film worth viewing, but overall it's a missed opportunity at a great family film.