DIRECTOR: Ken Hughes
This was the first time that I’ve seen this children’s classic since I was a child, and I suppose that I’d hoped that it would live up to its reputation. In all fairness though, I din’t like it that much when I was a child, if I’m honest and my children, though some DO like it, others seemed to have mixed feelings. At best, it’s likeable but never loveable and at worst, it just isn’t liked at all.
So, as an adult I watched this loose adaptation of James Bond’s, Ian Flemming’s novel, with every good intention, but in the end was left disappointed. Firstly, at 2 hours and 20 minutes long, it feels like an epic, and a completely unnecessary one at that. Its intermission is turned into a Batfink or Adam West’s Batman styled cliffhanger rather than a thematic or narrative break that it traditionally should have been, even going so far as to recap the action in the second act!
The songs weren’t great either, generally bordering on tedium rather than holding my interest. The story seems to be a little off kilter too, with a seemingly fatal crash destroying the eponymous car before its eventual restoration by Dick van Dyke. This was the culmination of a five-minute title sequence showcasing the early Grand Prix’s of 1907 and ’08 which for a family film seemed to drag somewhat.
But after an hour of songs and character development, we finally take off in the flying car to the fantasy land of Vulgaria, only for the whole experience to be a fantastical story told by Van Dyke’s, Caractacus Potts! All in all, this was a strange film, but not in an entertaining way like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, the connection being Roald Dahl’s involvement with the screenplay, but in a rather boring way, with events just seeing to happen without any really cause or need. One hour of story, then another one of fantasy. How many other films can boast this kind narrative twist and get away with it. It just seemed to be indulgent and plodding.
It would defiantly have been improved if the car was actually magical and did actually take them on this adventure rather than suggesting that it is perfectly okay to sing and dance around the real world but it’s a stretch too far to have a flying car! It should have been a fantasy through and through rather than six of one and half a dozen of the other.
Ultimately, Overrated in my opinion and since the view of FOUR children, boys and girls ranging from 7 – 15, is that it’s watchable rather than fully enjoyable, I suspect that this film is being viewed through rose coloured glasses.