Herbie: Fully Loaded Movie Review

A car with a mind of its own meets a screenplay with no mind to speak of in Herbie: Fully Loaded, Disney's brainless but painless effort to reintroduce its overhauled Volkswagen Bug to a new generation of gearheads. And while party gal Lindsay Lohan is a significant visual upgrade over original Love Bug stars Buddy Hackett and Dean Jones, Herbie has the same sophomoric physical gags and safe family humor tucked under his hood.

Lohan plays Maggie Peyton, the only daughter born into a family known for producing stock car drivers. Dad (Michael Keaton) calls the shots from the pits, brother Ray (Breckin Meyer) crashes cars on a weekly basis, and Maggie goes unnoticed until the day she comes into contact with a possessed VW Beetle that feels the need for speed. Together with her best friend and fellow mechanic, Kevin (Justin Long), Maggie starts entering local races, where she accidentally humiliates NASCAR Nextel Cup champ Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon) and sets the stage for a showdown race at the California Speedway.

Herbie holds some big, dumb laughs, but all four tires aren't as flat as you'd think. Director Angela Robinson shows a knack for shooting the film's high-speed stock car footage. She handles NASCAR coverage better than NBC. Dillon, for his part, playfully loses himself in a full-bore effort to utilize every sinister villain cliché in the book. He lacks only an oily mustache to twirl. From a Nextel Cup standpoint, he's the Tony Stewart of this film, and we love to hate him. The whole thing moves quickly and Disney plops in the requisite product placement, from Nextel to Pepsi to this summer's biggest star - ESPN (which, coincidentally, falls under the Disney umbrella).

One note to the film's producers: With the current media hoopla over IRL racer Danica Patrick, it's clear we're coming close to the day where women will compete for the Nextel Cup as depicted in the final scenes of Herbie. Just know that when the wall finally is broken down and NASCAR has women in the chase, those pioneering drivers - whatever their names may be - will not be behind the wheel of German manufactured automobiles. Go Dodge!

DVD features mainly comprise deleted scenes and a gag reel.

There she goes, there goes Speed Lohan.


Comments

Herbie: Fully Loaded Rating

" Weak "

Rating: PG, 2005

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