In Family Movie Night, Love of Learning
Section 1

I think I am on a Dick Van Dyke musical movie kick because I chose two shows in a row where he is a main character. Last week, it was Mary Poppins. This week, it’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! Like Mary Poppins, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang musical has catchy tunes. It was released in 1968.

We didn’t have movie night on our regular day because one of my sons’ birthdays fell on our usual night. Instead, we did it on Monday night, another night we have family night. It was snowing outside- unusual, though not unheard of, for May 7th. My kids had plenty of energy from being pent up inside. They also haven’t watched any television since the night before.

If you are like me and haven’t watched the movie in a while, you may want to review the story line. Click on “Spoilers!” to reveal the story line.


It is about a turn of the century car that is about to be scrapped, but is rescued and restored by an inventor. Once restored, the car takes on the name of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang due to the sounds it makes as the characters are taken through town and eventually flown to a mystical land. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang can fly, can float, as well as drive.

Dick Van Dyke’s character, Caractacus Potts, is the inventor. He is the father of two children, who are not enrolled in school. When they bump into Truly Scrumptious, Sally Ann Howes, she brings them back home and reminds Potts that his kids belong in school. He doesn’t appreciate being told how to raise his kids.

Even though she doesn’t approve of his parenting skills, Miss Scrumptious helped Mr. Potts convince her father to look at Mr. Potts’ whistling candy. Without her help, his father wouldn’t have given him the time of day. What makes this scene really funny is that all the town’s dogs show up while the whistle candies are sounding. They eat the candy and make a mess out of the Scrumptious Candy factory.

Miss Scrumptious continues to get under his skin throughout the beginning of the movie. One of the reasons they have a hard time getting along is there is a class difference. She’s rich and well-to-do, while he is a struggling inventor. His inventions don’t always work- you’ll laugh when you watch some of the projects fail. She constantly drives herself into a murky pond and needs to be rescued.

Then, Grandpa (Lionel Jeffries) gets abducted. By that time they’ve begun to tolerate, and even enjoy the company of, each other and band together to rescue Grandpa Potts. He is found in the child-free kingdom of Vulgaria. The Potts family and Miss Scrumptious seek refuge in the toy maker’s cellar to avoid detection and having the children removed.

Since children aren’t allowed, Mr. Potts, Miss Scrumptious, and the toy maker leave the kids in the cellar with the strict instructions not to leave while they go in search of Grandpa. The Child-catcher knows they are there somewhere, so he disguises himself as a friendly person giving away free sweets. Like most kids, they don’t have the will power to stay in the cellar and end up getting themselves captured. His character is the scariest looking character in the movie. We learn that the kids are being kept in the sewers.

Grandpa was kidnapped by mistake. The king and queen of Vulgaria wanted Caractacus Potts to invent a car for themselves. Instead, they get Grandpa, put him with other inventors, and tell him he has to invent another car like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Around this point in the movie, my younger kids (2 & 5) lost interest in the movie. It was only temporary.

The king and queen have a feast for their subjects. Then, they toymaker is summoned. He’s prepared with a few goodies such as a life-sized music box. The dancer is Miss Scrumptious. She does a great job looking like she is a toy as she sings and dances in the life-sized box surrounded mirrors. Another is a Jack-in-the-Box. The Jack is Mr. Potts. He looks like a rag doll who can’t keep his balance or walk without stumbling. He is hilarious. All of my kids loved this part. The younger kids regained interest.

The king suspects that something is up or he is very curious about the workmanship. He pinches the nose of “Jack.” Jack swings back into action. This serves as a distraction. The freed Vulgarian children begin to invade the castle. They string up the king and raise him toward the ceiling. The queen dances around in fright on the table as if the children were rats! The children capture the child-catcher. The king and queen end up in the cage the children were caught in earlier in the movie.

Meanwhile, Miss Scrumptious and Mr. Potts search the dungeon for the Potts children. In comes Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to the rescue and they leave the land of Vulgaria.
Back at home, the kids don’t want Truly Scrumptious to leave, but their father somehow offends her and she leaves. The next time they see her, she has driven her car into the same pond.
Mr. Potts also discovers that his Toot Sweets have made him rich because they are great for dogs. Mr. Scrumptious is at his house with a contract for Mr. Potts to sign. Just when he’s about to sign it, he suddenly leaves. He drives to get Truly. Before he gets to her house, that’s when he finds her in the pond again. They briefly kiss and head back toward the Potts house while flying in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The rest is up to your imagination.

The Results

My kids enjoyed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the musical for it’s musical qualities. My 5 year old recognized right away that Dick Van Dyke was in Mary Poppins, the movie we watched last week. It’s a pretty long movie, 2 hours and 27 minutes with an intermission. I was amazed that my kids stayed focused for the majority of the movie.

The Snacks

We had left over graham crackers from a race car track cake I made, left over frosting  and licorice from the tic tac toe and air plane cakes I made. So, I made graham cracker sandwiches and served licorice.

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