Herbie: Fully Loaded

**

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

An artefact of the baby boom era, Herbie, aka The Love Bug (ask your parents, if you're 20 or below), has fallen on hard times. Spunky Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan) - you can tell she's hip, she's still skateboarding - and her father (Michael Keaton - sack your agent, now!) saves the VW Beetle from the junkyard, since she'll need a set of wheels, after her father sets her up with a job in the city.

Anyway, Herbie is no ordinary runaround. He's a magic car (no explanation given, nor offered), with a mind of his own, who kicks the snot out of people he doesn't like with his doors and boot. Herbie and Maggie become friends and realise that anything is possible, even winning the Big Race!

In spite of her off-screen antics, Lohan remains the darling of Disney remakes, with her on-screen innocence and charm being an enjoyable diversion among the corn and cheese. The infinitely superior The Parent Trap and marvellous Freaky Friday show up Fully Loaded for what it is - a lowest common denominator expensive car wreck.

Matt Dillon is a gifted actor who sells himself short with a professional turn as an engagingly nasty NASCAR race champion and Keaton doesn't play to his strength - he hardly plays at all - while Justin Tong climbs another rung on his career ladder, as Maggie's would-be-boyfriend, looking on from afar.

The real problem with Herbie's return to the screen is its lack of pace. Either there's lots of reasonable plot on the cutting room floor, to which there is reference in the finished film, or there wasn't enough cut out to give narrative thrust. It feels terribly long at 100 minutes, during which time every possible product placement is aired.

A plot strand that left me scratching my head is when we are told that Maggie used to be one of the best street racers around "a long time ago". She graduates high school at the beginning of the film, so either she's been driving without a license, or the scriptwriters weren't paying attention.

Fully Loaded is blandly inoffensive children's' entertainment that lacks creativity. Yet it is crammed with nostalgia and kitsch - the credit sequence alone should convince you of this - and you are left wondering just for whom it was made - chicken-hearted sentimentalists, the easily pleased or their very young children?

Everyone else, steer clear!

Reviewed on: 13 Aug 2005
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Herbie: Fully Loaded packshot
The Love Bug VW Beetle is saved from the scrapyard by high school heartthrob Lindsay Lohan.
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Director: Angela Robinson

Writer: Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant, Alfred Gough, Miles Millar

Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Michael Keaton, Matt Dillon, Breckin Meyer, Justin Long, Cheryl Hines, Jimmi Simpson, Jill Ritchie

Year: 2005

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US

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