Yes, it’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! That wholesome family tale of child slavery, Eastern European despots, bloody revolution – and also a flying, haunted hell car! Starring Dick Van Dyke and a robot simulation of Julie Andrews!
Our story begins here, at the 1909 British Grand Prix…
Where Car #3 is forced off the track…
… and EXPLODES, killing the driver instantly!
This happens BEFORE THE CREDITS HAVE FINISHED ROLLING, thereby scarring an entire generation of theater-going children before they’ve opened their boxes of Jujubes.
Years later (even though everyone’s dressed like it’s 1900), the cursed death car is stuck in a junkyard, where Jeremy and Jemimah, two local truants, find it and then run afoul of some drunken vagrants who are overcome with evil intentions whenever they get near the foul demon-machine.
Fleeing for their lives from the toothless, whiskey-breath’d hobos, the children disobey local pedestrian crossing laws.
To the enormous consternation of Not-Julie Andrews, who almost gets killed trying to avoid them. This is the first of many attempts the haunted hellcar makes to kill or corrupt all around them.
A classic English busybody in the, um, bossy governess mode, with a predilection for wearing wedding cakes on her head, she introduces herself as Truly (which everyone pretends not to notice rhymes with Julie) and nearly kills the children several times over while driving them home without benefit of a windshield or seatbelts. Or even driving skills.
The childrens’ father is introduced to us and we instantly notice the following:
1. He is “eccentric” in that late ’60s, Monty Python/Richard Lester/Yellow Submarine kind of way.
2. He is Dick Van Dyke.
3. Both his children and his father have English accents but he sounds like he’s from the midwest.
4. Clearly someone remembered his previous attempt at an English accent and wisely advised him from even bothering to try.
5. He is an “inventor” named Caractacus Potts and we’re embarrassed to admit that it took us 40 years to realize that it’s a play on “crack pot,” and
6. He’s a loser.
Shmary Shmoppins also meets the childrens’ grandfather, who is constantly drunk, suffers from dementia, and lives in an outhouse.
Acting like the world is supposed to give a shit what she thinks, Truly Not Julie introduces herself to Crack and demands that he explain to her why he’s such a loser and his children live in a fucking windmill like they were goats or something. He tells her he has some inventing to do and extends an invitation for her to kindly kiss his inexplicably American ass.
But she obviously got to him, because he winds up singing:
Determined to no longer be a loser, he packs up his latest invention and heads to the Scrumptious candy factory, where he immediately runs into Lord Scrumptious’s daughter:
Truly. Truly Scrumptious.
Crack recovers quickly, notes that she’s wearing toilet paper on her head and remarks that her father gave her a pornstar name. Like all women, she adores being insulted by men and repays him by trying to help him sell his candy invention to her father, Lord Scrumptious.
We just like typing Lord Scrumptious a lot. It will be our next cat’s name.
Having failed at candy-selling, he goes to the local fair and starts mutilating people and — Oh God, who cares? We’re 4o minutes into this thing. Let’s get to the car.
Having finally earned some money, he heeds the siren call of the death car and, instead of buying his children food or clothes or even a place to live that isn’t a deathtrap, he spends it all on the hellmobile and brings it home.
Where he turns it into a gleaming, seductive kill machine that grants his every wish, so long as he continues to feed it the blood it so desperately craves. First, he and his children suddenly and inexplicably get much better wardrobes. Then they begin to invoke the demon car’s name by chanting it over and over and over again:
In return the car tries to kill Truly Schmulie once again, nearly ruining her latest craft store hat. Later-
Oh God, whatever. Let’s move it along here. Fine. Sing some more, everyone. The car demands it:
Later, at the beach, while Truly models the latest in Scrumptious Swimwear, the demon-enthralled children cast a spell on her:
MOVING RIGHT ALONG because holy shit, does this movie have a ton of plot, the villainous Baron Bomburst from the kingdom of Vulgaria spies the glorious Auto of Evil and declares that he will not rest until he makes it his own. His friends Napolean and Sailor Abe Lincoln agree with this course of action.
Chitty grows a raft under itself and speeds away from the nefarious Baron.
It was the sixties. What do you want? Parents considered it a win if their kids weren’t dropping acid and jumping out of windows.
In retaliation, the Baron kidnaps Grandpa Potts in the middle of his daily shit.
This leads to more goddamn singing.
WHAT EVEN WAS THAT?
CrackPot, Not-Julie, and the Children of the Damned see grandpa being whisked away and decide to pursue him.
They accidentally drive the car off the white cliffs of Dover and everyone dies horribly.
No, not really. The winged hellbeast, with its cold, unblinking eyes, senses there is much blood to be spilled this day and continues the pursuit. It will be proven right. Oh, how it will be proven right.
Once Grandpa Potts is allowed to leave his shitter, he is introduced to the Baron and his disturbing despotic ways.
Baroness Bomburst hates children and spends all day, every day trying on outfits and ignoring servants.
God, we love her.
We still haven’t gotten to the dark part of the film, by the way. We’re warning you now.
Flying in low over the kingdom of Vulgaria, Chitty the warmobile is spotted by the Vulgarian military. In response to rumors that there are children aboard, the Baroness utters the most chilling words ever to be uttered in Vulgarian.
“Call out the Childcatcher!”
With those four words, all of Generation X simultaneously lost their innocence. Darkness followed them all the days of their lives. Here is the moment little Kurt Cobain’s heart shattered.
Meanwhile, the pseudo-family disembarks and heads into the village.
Everyone gives them the tradition Vulgarian welcome. Vulgaria’s national motto is “Who are you and what do you want?”
Benny Hill runs out of his toy store and shuffles them into the basement, telling them to hide before the Childcatcher comes.
No, really. Benny Hill.
The Childcatcher arrives:
Darkness. Nightmare Fuel.
If you were 8, a little pee just came out.
THIS WILL FLOAT BEHIND THE EYELIDS OF EVERY CHILD IN THE DARK FOR AN ENTIRE GENERATION. DEATH METAL IS BORN IN THIS MOMENT.
The flamboyant civil servant smells the stench of children and barges into Benny Hill’s toy store, where he pokes around and more or less does his best Bette Davis impersonation.
Fortunately, Crack Van Dyke and Truly Van Andrews have a plan:
And after everything else we’ve seen, it’s only mildly unsettling that they don’t have arms anymore.
Meanwhile, the Baron has captured Chitty the Deathcar. After sitting in it for no more than 30 seconds, a rage overtakes him and he attempts to kill his wife while his elderly drag queen friends look on.
Again, it was the sixties. Mommy was popping pills and Daddy was popping his secretary. Kids were for emptying ashtrays.
In other news, the Michael Jackson tourbus just pulled into town.
OH HOLY MARY MOTHER OF GOD MOMMY MOMMY CAN WE GO HOME NOW PLEASE I’LL BE GOOD I’M SORRY I’M SORRY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHATEVER I DID I’M SORRY
The children are captured and taken to the castle. Baroness Bomburst has them thrown onto a fire.
Possibly. They kind of disappear from the film. It’s not like burning two adorable children alive is beyond this film, is it?
Speaking of which, Dick Van Crack and Scrumptious Poppins go on a tour of the death camps for children located under the castle.
Look, we’re not fucking kidding and neither is this movie, all right? DEATH CAMPS. CHILDREN.
NOW SING, CRACK AND CANDY, SING, GODDAMIT! OUR CHILDHOODS DESERVE A BRIEF SALVE ON THE BURNING HOT SCARS THIS FILM HAS INFLICTED ON THEM.
That was fun, wasn’t it, kids? Hey, let’s watch some gross grownups in fetishwear engage in some mild BDSM next, okay?
LOOK, IT WAS THE SIXTIES, ALRIGHT? White bread and gravy with every meal! Genocidal despots and kinky sex for the kiddies! It’s good for them! You’d rather grow up in the DEPRESSION? Eat your cream chipped beef and like it, you little bastards.
For the Baron’s birthday celebration, Dick, Benny Hill and the UnJulie hatch a master plan to save the children of Vulgaria.
Once again it involves dressing up like creepy killer clown dolls and taking a torch to our childhood innocence.
To be fair, it’s probably the best song in the film.
Still insanely unsettling. Then again, if you were 8, you were a vibrating ball of tears at this point. The slightest sound would’ve had you shitting your pants. We can’t imagine what those theater seats looked like after the matinee.
Anyway, let’s wrap this up, since we’re closing in on two and a half hours and any members of the target audience not catatonic at this point are clawing at the theater doors and begging to be let out. Let’s give the kiddies a little catharsis. While Crack and Truly are distracting everyone…
The children of Vulgaria rise up to slaughter their oppressors.
Once again: not kidding. Unleashed after horrific cruelties, the feral children kill the entire court.
Hey, Vietnam was being televised in everyone’s living rooms at the time. What did you want? They killed Kennedy, for God’s sake.
The Childcatcher is captured and torn to pieces.
The Baron and Baroness are paraded through the streets and beheaded later that afternoon.
BLOOD RUNS DOWN THE STEPS OF CASTLE VULGARIA THIS DAY.
CHITTY IS VICTORIOUS. ALL HAIL CHITTY OUR LORD AND MASTER, BRINGER OF BLOOD AND RENDERER OF DARK JUSTICE. PRAISE HIM. PRAISE HIM.
Leaving behind a wartorn country drowning in blood, the hell car sprouts its death wings and whisks the rescued family away.
Later, having been fully and totally corrupted by the demon car, Dick and Not-Julie have a hearty laugh about all the death they’ve left in their wake and decide to get married, with the promise that all of their children will be sacrificed to Chitty.
Chitty demands it.