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Film / The Boy in the Plastic Bubble

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The Boy in the Plastic Bubble is a 1976 Made-for-TV Movie directed by Randal Kleiser and produced by Aaron Spelling. It stars John Travolta, Glynnis O'Connor, Diana Hyland, Robert Reed, Ralph Bellamy and P. J. Soles.

Based on the real-life stories of David Vetter and Ted DeVita, the film follows Tod Lubitch, born with an improperly functioning immune system. This means that contact with unfiltered air may kill him, so he must live out his life in incubator-like conditions. He lives with his parents, since they decided to move him from Texas Children's Hospital where he was being kept as a boy. He is restricted to staying in his room all his life, where he eats, learns, reads and exercises, while being protected from the outside world by various coverings.

The film was well received, and won a posthumous Emmy Award for Hyland's performance as Mickey Lubitch (Hyland died of breast cancer four months after initial airing).

The tropes outside the plastic bubble:

  • Alternate DVD Commentary: RiffTrax recorded a comedic commentary in 2010. You can view it on their YouTube channel here.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: One of the real life inspirations pointed out that Tod would have brought several outside contaminants into his bubble by walking back into it wearing his protective suit.
  • Bubble Boy: The title character.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After Gina and her friends pull a mean prank on Tod (she pretends to fall in love with him on a dare and tells him so immediately after), they feel horrible about it and make sure their next attempts at befriending him are sincere.
  • No Ending: After we see Tod kiss Gina, then go off to ride her horse (not a euphemism), the credits roll. We don't know if Tod lived for the next hour or next decade. Probably the point.
    • The most we get is Tod's doctor telling him that he's built up some immunities, but it's still up in the air if something like a bad cold could easily kill him or not.
  • Situational Sexuality: Tod spends time in the hospital with another boy named Roy, who's his age and shares his condition (albeit for a lot less time). He seems a little too happy to have a bunkmate and doesn't talk about anything other than masturbation and/or sex. And how he wants to have sex with everything. EVERYTHING.
    Bill: You're *bleep* disgusting.
  • Stalking is Love: Tod watches Gina through binoculars which is either endearing or weird.