Jemima (Heather Ripley) and Jeremy (Adrian Hall) are two young kids who live with their eccentric inventor father, Caractacus (Dick Van Dyke). The two kids have active imaginations and love to spend time at the local junkyard playing in an old, broken-down automobile.
One day, while the kids are playing in the junkyard, they meet Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), who brings the kids home and informs their father of their truancy. Caractacus waves off Truly's concerns.
The kids return to the junkyard, only to discover the car is marked for scrap. Scared of losing their favorite plaything, the kids ask their father to buy the car. After a series of misadventures at the State Fair, Caractacus buys the car and rebuilds it, christening it "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" because of the sound the engine makes. To celebrate, the family, with Truly in tow, head to the beach.
Once at the beach, Caractacus tells the group the story of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the evil Baron Bomburst (Gert Frobe) and the Child Catcher (Robert Helpmann).
The most intriguing aspect of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is its pedigree. Although based on a story originally penned by Ian Fleming (the novelist behind the James Bond franchise) with a screenplay co-written by children's author Roald Dahl, the story is pure imagination and, without question, the reason the film will register with kids, as well as their parents who haven't quite grown up. Though not as outlandish as some of Dahl's better-known works, his style is evident throughout the film - particularly Caractacus's imaginative story.
Then there's the music. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is full of great music, all written by the Sherman Brothers, the same duo behind several Disney classics. Though the songs aren't quite as catchy as their other songs, there's no way to watch the movie and not find yourself humming at least one song at random times during the day. All songs are available in the "Music Machine" or in "Sing-Along Mode."
The Blu-ray transfer is amazing. It's clear this isn't a quick transfer job. A lot went into the release and it shows. Colors pop off the screen and help bring Caractacus' vibrant imaginary world to life.
Extras are pretty good. The best of the bunch is "Remembering Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," a half-hour retrospective with Dick Van Dyke. There's also a set of three older features from the film's original release, as well as an interview with car expert Pierre Picton. Finally, there are two games, though these are ultimately forgettable.
After watching the Blu-ray release, I kind of wish I had watched it as a kid. Given my over-active imagination, I would have really loved it. And, really, it's something I think younger kids will love. Everything about the film - from the wacky plot, to the songs, to Dick Van Dyke - is geared directly towards what kids love about movies. Without getting into any more detail, I can tell you it is leagues better than most modern "family" movies. Older viewers will likely see the numerous plot and story issues, but even then, it is enjoyable enough to hit on long-forgotten childhood memories.