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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.58%
Worth A Look: 15.15%
Average: 33.33%
Pretty Bad34.85%
Total Crap: 9.09%

7 reviews, 24 user ratings

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Herbie: Fully Loaded
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by Jay Seaver

"Stuck in neutral."
2 stars

I'm naturally inclined to like "Herbie: Fully Loaded". I like most of the cast, some quite a bit, and the franchise itself is on my good side, even if I can't actually remember watching any of the movies except for the made-for-TV entry Peyton Reed did for "The Wonderful World of Disney" around eight years ago. I like that Angela Robinson and her screenwriters made a G-rated movie, rather than throwing in a swearword or something to bump the rating up a notch because looking too wholesome is uncommercial. But just because the audience may be inclined to like a movie doesn't mean the filmmakers shouldn't make some sort of effort.

The folks making Herbie don't make many false steps, but they also don't take many steps very far off the beaten path. Maggie Payton (Linsday Lohan) has just graduated from college and will be moving cross-country to start a job in New York in a few weeks. She's the first in her family to go to college, as the family business is racing cars - her grandfather was a legend, her father Ray (Michael Keaton) runs the team, and brother Ray Jr. (Breckin Meyer) is the team's driver, though not as good a driver as Maggie (who, of course, promised Ray she wouldn't race again after an accident in high school). When she finds Herbie at a junkyard, she's initially not impressed, but as we all know, the car has a mind of its own, and not only does Herbie love to race, he's also unable to resist nudging Maggie and Kevin (Justin Long), the mechanic she brings the car to for a tune-up (and a high-school friend), together. And, of course, there's a condescending rival driver (Matt Dillon) to contend with.

Now, look at that cast. This is not a great cast in that one looks at it and says "what are they doing in a Disney remake/sequel" (other than perhaps Michael Keaton, but let's face it, this is where his career is right now, and quite frankly a huge step up from White Noise). It is, rather, exactly the people one would want in this type of movie - familiar faces whose on-screen personae are matches for the characters, who hit their marks and convey straightforward emotion to their youthful audience. Lindsay Lohan is an old hand at this; she, after all, first got noticed in remakes of The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday. Here, her scratchy voice and freckles work to give her tomboy cred, and her pre-frightening-weight-loss face marks her as youthful enough for the kid audience to identify with. Michael Keaton is a loyal, likable father, though he seldom gets a chance to really be the funny one; his job is mostly to exude friendly, low-key authority. Justin Long is pretty much the same lovable goofball he always plays. Matt Dillon is an oily villain lacking much real menace. Breckin Meyer is an almost complete non-factor, designed to not be a strong enough character that Maggie can take his place later in the movie without any hurt feelings.

And then there's Herbie. Most of the car's funniest moments come in an opening montage where we trace his life from the original 1968 movie to the junkyard. The filmmakers never really seem to figure out how to let the car's personality shine. I almost think they would have been better off doing a lot more CGI than they actually did; let this be a 2000s cartoon Herbie, which the kid audience would have been comfortable with. Instead, they mostly try to work subtle mechanical pantomime, and it's probably too subtle and infrequent; we seldom get the sense of the car having the same strength of personality as even the cardboard characters that populate this movie. And maybe it's just me, but I think the choice to do shots from Herbie's point of view was a mistake; it makes later scenes where Maggie and Kevin are upgrading Herbie to compete in a stock car race even more off-putting.

(Seriously; if we're supposed to think of the car as a character, how twisted is it for the other characters to gut and rebuild him for their own purposes?)

Without Herbie, this would be just another standard-issue sports movie; Lohan could be riding her skateboard rather than driving a car. But with Herbie... Well, it's still pretty much that same plot, hitting all the same notes, just with the occasional "how's that magic car doing that?" thrown in. This is also one of those rare cases where the effects are too good for the movie's own good - Herbie is able to do some impossible things, but they look too smooth; there's a fanciful air of absurd impossibility to the feats we see Herbie perform in the opening credits, whereas here, the effects do too good a job of selling themselves. They don't allow us disbelief to suspend.

I have to admit, though - the small children in the theater around me were laughing pretty hard. Maybe they haven't seen the template this movie followed so slavishly enough times to know what comes next; maybe I just don't know what will strike the seven-year-old mind very well. That kids enjoy it has to count for something.

Still, I can't say I really enjoyed it, even as I was expecting too. I can say that I didn't dislike it, but a neutral experience doesn't net a recommendation, at least not for adults alone. Adults with kids, well, you could do worse.

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originally posted: 09/02/05 14:23:44
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User Comments

1/17/09 Shaun Wallner This movie was stupid! 2 stars
6/29/08 art WHO CARES? 1 stars
1/23/08 Chase It was an OK movie. It could've been more intersting though. 3 stars
8/11/07 Tiffany Losco I liked this movie. This is when Lindsay was good! 5 stars
12/25/06 garfeild This movie was a piece of @#$% 5 stars
11/30/06 David Pollastrini Lindsay Lohan is hot! 4 stars
7/15/06 drydock54321 fun movie to watch 4 stars
6/09/06 holly i think herbie fully loaded is a gret movie i like it becuase i love vw bettles 5 stars
5/20/06 duh the movies pretty good!But my '06 aveo can do better!!! 4 stars
5/15/06 Diane P daughter loved it, couldn't compare to herbie of years past..just ok 3 stars
5/03/06 Ashley Hinz I just didn't appreciate it. No offense meant. 2 stars
10/25/05 drfardook forced to watch on a CA-NY flight. tried to claw my way through the window 1 stars
10/21/05 Ariadne Christina Renee Gladstone Nothing special but Lindsay Lohan fun to watch even when slumming. 3 stars
9/14/05 Jonathon Holmes not even Lohan's hot-ass body can save this shity remake 2 stars
8/15/05 William E. C. Lowe And other Great Movie From the love Bug add to all the great nice collection. Great the act 5 stars
7/11/05 8=====D lohan is fuckin hott!!!!!! =O 5 stars
7/04/05 KingNeutron How sad that the guy that played Johnny Dangerously is reduced to this. 2 stars
7/02/05 Eric Rollins Have to get loaded to sit through this 2 stars
6/27/05 dan a good fun family film, good ob lindsay 4 stars
6/24/05 chris. oh good. hollywood continues to piss on my childhood memories. 1 stars
6/24/05 Huh? Peter: How about reviewing this movie, and not comparing it to the original? 3 stars
6/23/05 Naka Nahh. 1 stars
6/23/05 Penisballs Lindsay Lohan: Fully Loaded (i.e. 25 hours a day, 8 days a week) 1 stars
6/23/05 Brian way to fulfill your contractual obligations, lindsay 1 stars
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  22-Jun-2005 (G)
  DVD: 25-Oct-2005



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