The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976) Review

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Staying Alive

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976): 4 out of 10: This is going to be a weird one. There is so much to unpack here. First, let me confess I watched the Rifftrax version of this film. It is a bit of a strange choice for Rifftrax. This is a drama writ large. It would be like a Rifftrax of Love Story or Terms of Endearment.

The next thing to unpack is Seinfeld’s Bubble Boy. He haunts this movie as it was such a wonderful parody of this film and circumstance. I spent the entire movie with the phrase “It’s Moors” stuck in my head.

The third unpacking is the cast of the film. You, of course, have John Travolta in short shorts. His real life love interest Diana Hyland, who was 18 years his senior, divorcing her husband, and unknown to both of them, was about to get a tragic fatal disease that would not be out of place in the film itself. She, in a creepish aside, plays his mother in the film. I know, I know it shouldn’t matter. But like the actor playing Dexter marrying the actress playing his sister, it illogically just seems… well creepy.

On the plus side, we have Robert Reed, Mr. Brady himself, as the father and a very young PJ Soles as one of the high school kids. Also on the plus side, this really isn’t that bad a movie. Though based on a true story, it really doesn’t tie itself to the true (and much more depressing) real life escapades. Travolta has a light touch, and the film seems to do a pleasant job humanizing the issues at hand. In addition, if you are watching the Rifftrax version, there are some pretty good riffs to keep you smiling through the slow bits. Definitely a fun time with Rifftrax and an interesting curiosity piece for those watching without.

RiffTrax Version: 8 out 10: Like I say above, this is an overall fun time. The boys travel afield for the jokes, much to their credit. Plenty of material to work with considering the cast and the circumstances. Not to mention the overwhelming seventies of the whole made for TV production.

Video

Screenshots

Ralph Bellamy about to lay the smack down.
Okay, I call shenanigans. This scene takes place during Travolta’s birth, which would place it around 1960. There is no way any self-respecting adult male would wear that shirt in public in 1960. (1976 is a whole different story.)
Ah directing toddlers. For this scene, you are looking lovingly at your parents. Your movie parents kid. They are right there to your right. Stop staring at the camera. Nevermind… cut.
Sorry honey, it is going to take more than that negligee and a warm glass of champaign to get Mr. Brady in the mood.
Travolta’s real life love interest with a slightly more age appropriate partner.
She is not feeling you, Mr. Brady.
I am not saying this looks like a gay porn film from the seventies. But if I was relaxing at the Radisson and flicking through the channels and came upon this scene. I would assume that this movie might show up on my corporate charge card.
You know being a bubble boy would be a lot easier today with the internet and video games. Playing chess with your doctor would drive me to take the final horse ride, if you know what I mean.

Glynnis Mary O’Connor looks like every babysitter I had in the seventies…

Yup every babysitter… It is uncanny.
Yeah, I don’t think so.
I love my special effects shots.
Oh my God, it is a Giant Baby Travolta. I know this is an accidental forced perspective camera trick, but still it is hilarious. Reminds me of that bizarre President Biden visits President Carter photo, which I have posted directly below.
I know this is a TV movie but if you are alone with your girlfriend and you have those glove things….
Okay, this is bullshit. How does he get back into his bubble when the outside of the suit is contaminated? Keep in mind this is an ad hoc at home unit. There is no Alien style decontamination center.
Yes, I am having Carrie flashbacks.
Now I am getting Leslie Nielson in the Naked Gun flashbacks.
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