Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Over the moon about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Just as Ian Fleming wrote three Chitty Chitty Bang Bang adventures, Frank Cottrell Boyce has penned a third sequel to the original series. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Over the Moon sees the modern Tooting family – who find and restore the famous racing car (with the help of a little Chitty magic) in their first outing – adrift 1966 when Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, now fitted with a time-travelling chronojuster, is stolen. There's only one to do: find the Pott family and the 'younger' Chitty, rescue the future Chitty, and go.... back to the future.

As with any story involving time-travel, the twists, complications and paradoxes soon mount up, and this latest Chitty adventure is no exception. What happens when the past and future Chitty Chitty Bang Bangs meet? What would become of the Tootings if the future described in the first two sequels never happened as a result of their saving the world in the 1960s? As with any time-travelling story, it's probably best not to think about it too much.

The story has much to enjoy. Meeting the Potts again is like seeing old friends. Or, rather, old-fashioned friends. Frank Cottrell Boyce nicely contrasts the attitudes of today with those of the 1960s, reflecting the changes in society that have occurred over the past 50 years. So, Commander Pott is authoritative, Jeremy is independent and capable, ever ready with a map, compass, pocket knife and catapult, Mimsie makes tea and thinks about picnics, while Jemima reminds everyone that she's not very good at things because she's a girl. Of course, the Potts soon learn that to overcome the villainous Tiny Jack, they all need to work together as a family – and with the Tootings.

There are nods to the Bond series and other films. Commander Pott drives an Aston Martin DB5. Tiny Jack, who's building up his collection of (stolen) cars, already has the Batmobile and Marty McFly's DeLorean. Other allusions are probably unintentional. When Tiny Jack hijacks Big Ben (actually the Elizabeth Tower), which is flying across the sky thanks to one of Commander Pott's inventions, anti-gravity paint, I was reminded of the plot of Bond spoof, Alligator, in which the eponymous villain steals the Houses of Parliament. I expect, however, that this vague similarity is purely coincidental.

With the Potts involved in much of the action, the spirit of Ian Fleming is never far away, and Frank Cottrell Boyce further links his adventures with the original stories with references to Crackpot's whistling sweets and Monsieur Bon Bon's 'Fooj' shop. And with these references, it seems that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's adventures have come full circle, and to an end. But I hope not. I've enjoyed reading these new adventures, and would love to see Chitty take flight again. After all, in the words of Commander Pott, never say no to adventure.

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