Monday, June 20, 2005

Herbie: Fully Loaded

Herbie: Fully Loaded (Director: Angela Robinson)

Robinson directed the chick action comedy D.E.B.S., which died a quick death. This is a renewal to the "Herbie" franchise, which had 6 films from 1968 to 1997 (the height of it was the late sixties and seventies).

Talk about inessential! After Hilary Duff delivered a movie that belonged on Nickelodeon over the past weekend, her teen queen rival Lindsay Lohan comes out with another all-ages movie just five days later. This movie is kind of what The Perfect Man should have been--easily digested and forgotten.

The film is just like this year's Madison--a family of hard-luck racers who stand to lose their endorsements if they don't perform well in "the big race." This time, we're on the Nextel Cup circuit. Maggie Peyton (Lohan) has just graduated college and her prize is her pick of a junky car funded by her father Ray (Michael Keaton). She ends up with Herbie, a Volkswagen Bug who has personality--no really, like people personality! The car, feeling slighted by hotshot racer Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon--who steals the movie), takes him on in an impromptu street race (with Maggie in tow) and beats him--leading to a rivalry between Trip and Maggie. Dad doesn't want daughter to race, preferring instead son Ray Jr. (Breckin Meyer) be the family racer, mainly because--yep, Maggie is a girl and looks too much like Ray's dead wife, and he can't afford to lose her. To hell with Ray Jr.!

So, the movie is set up where Herbie should be the main star, but the Bug is upstaged by Dillon and the presence of Lohan. In fact, "Fully Loaded" doesn't describe how "Fully Loaded" Herbie should be. OK, so he has an attraction towards a yellow Bug model, and occasionally you see him get pissed off. But I thought Herbie should have made known, at least to his owner, that he's a living thing. One scene involves love interest Kevin (Justin Long), who swears that Herbie has moved from one place to another by himself (and of course...he has!) and Maggie comes over and simply states, "Well, I don't question it...It's just what I come to realize is the magic of Herbie!" I never saw any other Herbie movies but it seems like people are content to shrug at Herbie's antics, kind of like when people start impossibly bouncing around in Flubber or take for granted that basketballs can change direction in midair in The Sixth Man or the same thing with baseballs in Angels in the Outfield (all Disney products, by the way).

So I think the flaws reside in, yes, that there isn't enough CGI-fueled mayhem. In a movie like this, which is supposed to be a summer family trifle, it'd be nice to see Herbie go full out. In one scene, where he's being picked up by an crusher at a junk yard, his antics are amusing. There is simply not enough of that. The movie is set up to showcase Lohan--a smart move financially, but they could have done that and still given Herbie a little more character than the emotionally fragile bitch-boy that he is in this. By the way, I heard all sorts of stuff about digitally "reducing" Lohan's breasts in this...I saw no real evidence of that, but if they wanted to cover something up along those lines, they should have gone after her legs. Shazaam!

Anyway, probably no one here will ever watch this. It's absolutely not important to watch this as a function of your mental and physical growth. You will not be on the outside looking in when this movie hits theatres Wednesday.


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