In recent years there seems to be no end of remakes - from horror classics (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho) to crime capers (Oceanís Eleven) so I guess it was just a matter of time before Disney decided to rehash some of its back catalogue. Herbie debuted in 1969 which was followed by two movies during the seventies with his last outing being in 1980 with Herbie Goes Bananas.The movie starts with a brief history of Herbieís past triumphs and adventures that were covered in the earlier films. It then goes on to document how after a number of lost races, he became neglected and now, 25 years on from his last moment of glory, he is a rustbucket awaiting the crusher in a wrecking yard.
Ray Peyton (Michael Keaton), a former NASCAR champion offers to purchase his daughter, Maggie (Lindsay Lohan) a car for her graduation. Due to his race teamís less than triumphant track record in recent years, Ray does not have a big budget to work with. This leads them to a scrap yard where Maggie ends up deciding on the decrepit looking bug with race stripes and the number 53 just being visible under the dust. She then takes it in to her mechanic friend Kevin (Justin Long) for a bit of motor and bodywork. Soon after Herbie is back in action and the two form an inexplicably strong bond considering that one is human and one is machine.
Before too long Maggie realises that Herbie is more than a car and has a real personality as well as a strong desire to get back onto the racetrack. Maggie has a history of illegal street racing and Ray is firmly opposed to her wanting to follow in his footsteps. After a number of adventures and misfortunes, Maggie and Herbie end up pitted against the cutthroat race driver Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon), who is the current reigning champion of the NASCAR track.
On the acting front everyone does a good job in a fluffy Disney-like way. Pick of the crop would be Matt Dillon who plays a childrenís film villain perfectly. Technically there are no faults with the film either with plenty of old fashioned real stunts mixed in with sparingly and effectively used CGI.
Herbie Fully Loaded is good, clean, family fun which is precisely what is wrong with it. Childrenís films have come a long way in recent years, most notably with the Pixar outings which are far more cutting edge and tailored to new millennium kids. Herbie Fully Loaded may be set in the present day but its plot and values seem trapped in the past.It drips with so much sentiment and spoon fed morals that its sweetness is almost sickening. Some families will welcome this but why bother with a remake when the entire Herbie back catalogue has recently become available on DVD.