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Overall Rating
2.77

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 Peter Sobczynski

"Insert tacky Lindsay Lohan-related joke here."
2 stars

It seems bizarre in hindsight but the top-grossing film of 1969 was not “The Wild Bunch,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” or “Easy Rider.” In fact, it was “The Love Bug,” a live-action Disney family comedy about a Volkswagen Beetle, affectionately known as Herbie, with a mind and a heart of his own. With its fun premise, impressive-for-the-time special effects and light anti-authoritarian theme, it was the rare kid-oriented film that maintained a considerable appeal for adults and teenagers as well. However, it seems unlikely that “Herbie: Fully Loaded”–Disney’s attempt to jump-start the franchise after a few lame sequels, a short-lived TV series and a dreadful TV remake with Bruce Campbell–will inspire a similar reaction among audiences today. It contains roughly the same premise and the special effects have improved but this revamp strangely leaves out the central thing that made Herbie so special in the first place–a heart–in its headlong rush to cram in miscast stars, dumb attempts at “hip” humor and more commercial plugs than your average James Bond film.

To be fair, the opening credit sequence is pretty funny–a montage that uses old footage and fake newspapers to illustrate Herbie’s amazing rise (including shots of him partying at Studio 54) and tragic fall–and suggests that director Angela Robinson (late of “D.E.B.S.”) and a platoon of screenwriters have figured out a new approach to the material. Almost immediately, that is discarded as the now-junky Herbie is taken off to a scrap yard, where he gets into an oil-spitting duel with the mean, toupee-wearing owner. Just before Herbie is about to be crushed, he is bought by Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan) as a college graduation present from her father (Michael Keaton), a former NASCAR champ who now heads a failing team where her untalented brother (Breckin Meyer) is the main driver. It should be noted that Maggie is planning on leaving for New York in a month to work as an intern for Disney corporate sibling ESPN, that she was once a hot street racer until her father forbade it after she was involved in a car accident and that she still dreams that dream that has fueled the minds of many over the years–to one day be the first female to win the Nextel Cup. I’m sure that the resolution of these conflicts will not come as a surprise even to the youngest of viewers.

To be sure, there are a couple of other complications. One is Kevin (Justin Long), the Keanu-esque mechanic who really likes Maggie–because of her spirit and her driving skills, of course, and not because the rumors about Lohan’s chest being digitally reduced to get a “G” rating seem to have been unfounded. Another is Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon), the egocentric NASCAR champion whom Herbie, with a disguised Maggie in tow, beats in a street race and who goes to Clouseau-like lengths to try to destroy the car for good. (On the DVD, I eagerly anticipate the moment on the commentary track when Dillon–the rare teen star to mature into an interesting adult actor–discusses the scene where he unsuccessfully tries to rassle a Volkswagen into submission, a scene which may become as infamous for him as his other rassling match in “Wild Things.”) Luckily, everything is resolved with a big race, a couple of emotional reconciliation and a soundtrack filled with songs safe enough for Radio Disney play–to give an idea of the originality, it should be said that both “Born to be Wild” and “Walking on Sunshine” appear. (I can only assume that “I Feel Good” is being saved for a sequel.)

Obviously, the special effects have improved considerably in the decades since the original films but I can’t help but thinking that maintaining the low-tech aesthetic might not have been a bad idea. One of the things that made the original film so amusing was the juxtaposition of all these astounding feats being performed by such an utterly ordinary-looking car. Here, he jumps up and down, does amazing mid-air flips and even winks his headlights and smiles his bumper at a pretty new-model VW that he gets the hots for. I can only assume that the popularity of stuff like Thomas the Tank Engine led to these unnecessary additions but they are more creepy than amusing and take away make the car seem more like Christine than the Herbie that we know and love. It gets worse as the film goes on as he gets souped-up for his NASCAR debut (and if you are wondering how the car manages to conform to strict NASCAR standards, the soundtrack announces “They must have found a loophole!” without ever explaining what it might be)–when I saw the sight of adorable Herbie festooned with the promotional stickers that cover all NASCAR riders these days, the few vestiges of my childhood innocence shriveled up and died.

Another inexplicable decision is to take the focus of the film off of Herbie and place it instead on the shoulders of Lindsay Lohan. Call me crazy, but if I’m going to a movie about a car with a mind of its own, the last thing I care about is whether the red-head solves her personal problems and gets the cute boy. This flaw is accentuated by the fact that Lohan, who was so appealing in “Mean Girls,” slouches through the film with the attitude of an actress trying to get through a contractual-obligation movie as quickly as possible. On the other hand, Dillon throws himself into the bad-guy role–the kind that used to be essayed by Harvey Korman or Keenan Wynn–with zeal and while it is a performance that won’t rank high in his filmography, it is reasonably entertaining under the circumstances. As for Keaton, who seems to be Hollywood’s go-to guy for playing the father to highly-publicized starlets (on the heels of playing Katie Holmes’s sire in “First Daughter”), he is okay in his brief appearances but he looks as if, to paraphrase W.C. Fields, all in all, he’d rather be in “Batman Begins.”(There are also cameos from the likes of Dale Jarrett, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon–the latter does here for acting what he did a few weeks ago to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at Wrigley Field.)

Not good enough to recommend to anyone beyond very young children (who would be better served by the DVD of the original) and not bad enough to grumble too harshly about, “Herbie: Fully Loaded” is the kind of remake that gets produced only because it sounded like an easy way to make a few bucks without having to actually invest time, money and energy on developing any original ideas. There are a couple of funny lines here and there (“I’m being car-jacked by my own car!”) and one extended scene–in which Herbie goes mano-a-mano in a demolition derby with a monster truck–that comes close to capturing the spirit of the original. Beyond those bits, it is just kind of innocuous and dumb–it is better than “Herbie Goes Bananas,” I suppose, but not by much.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12481&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/22/05 15:00:44
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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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Jun-2005 (G)
  DVD: 25-Oct-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  23-Jun-2005




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