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Herbie: Fully Loaded Synopsis

With the new trailer released, it’s time to update this thing. The movie looks in short, horrible.

What really hurts about the new film is exactly what you can see in the trailer. Herbie has been a horrible victim of CGI. In modernizing him, Disney has gone too damn far. The car SMILES. It WINKS. It flexes around like a Roger Rabbit character. My god, it’s horrible. Disney has totally missed the point. I guess that should be no surprise with today’s modern, straight-to-video minded Disney.

The greatness of the old Herbie was that it almost seemed plausible. He was just a NORMAL car that had so much heart he came to life. He wasn’t a cartoon character. Herbie let you imagine that the normal, boring car sitting in your driveway might be alive, only lacking the means to communicate. By throwing CGI on the car, and making him expressive and freakish, Herbie looks to have lost everything that there was to love about him, and that’s a shame. I love Herbie as a kid. Still love him. I could sit and watch The Love Bug right now and dig it. Buddy Hacket was genius. But this… I don’t know if I can take it.

Previewed by Joshua Tyler: 2005-03-15

Why bother with a preview of a Herbie movie? Besides the obvious excuse to post pictures of Lindsay Lohan, it’s a heavy nostalgia thing. The Love Bug movies were a huge part of my childhood. From Buddy Hackett to that little Mexican kid in Herbie Goes Bananas, Herbie was major in my little 5 to 6 year old world. One of the earliest debates I remember having was the old “which car is the greatest”. In contention was K.I.T.T., the General Lee, and good old Herbie (nicknamed “Ocho” by a kid who didn’t grok math).

Herbie wasn’t just a clever marketing ploy by Volkswagen (though his presence had to help sales); he was a car with well, heart. He’s the little car who could; part of that era of great, innocent kid’s filmmaking that seems to now exist only in the hallowed halls of Pixar. Bringing him back is a great idea, especially since it doesn’t look like Disney is updating Herb to be one of those horrible new Beatles.

Herbie: Fully Loaded will be the fifth film in the Herbie series, and the first new one since 1980’s Herbie Goes Bananas (a movie which featured the car serving as a banana catapult). The premise is simply that Herbie is a Volkswagen Beatle that can drive itself. No, it’s not like “Knight Rider’, where he’s got some tricked up super-computer under the hood. In all other respects, Herbie is a completely normal vehicle. He just happens to be alive. Whether that’s because he’s been possessed by the Devil, or because something special got in the mix when they made him is left up to the viewer’s imagination. Herbie can’t talk, but he does his best to communicate with beeps, flashing lights, and an occasional oil drip on those he doesn’t like.

The little car is also damned fast, and in the first film, The Love Bug he’s discovered by a failed race car driver named Jim Douglas, who uses him to win competitions against much more traditional speedsters. Herbie wins races on sheer force of will, and the little car’s over-the-top tenacity is what makes him such a lovable little putterer.

Casting Lindsay Lohan might sound like certain doom, but the girl seems to have a little something. The fact that Disney is sticking with the original car, emblazoned with Herbie’s traditional 53 instead of updating it to the new Volkswagen Beatle says all that needs to be said about this movie… Disney is being faithful. Good live action family films have been too long absent from the movie theater, and good Disney products have been even fewer and father between. I’m hoping Herbie: Fully Loaded marks a return to both.

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