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Angela Robinson
Lindsay Lohan, Michael Keaton, Matt Dillon, Breckin Meyer, Justin Long, Cheryl Hines, Jimmi Simpson, Jill Ritchie, Thomas Lennon, Jeremy Roberts
Writing Credits:
Gordon Buford (characters), Mark Perez (story), Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant, Alfred Gough, Miles Millar

He's back!

When Maggie Peyton (Lohan) becomes the new owner of an old Volkswagen Beetle, she discovers the car has a mind of its own. Before long, Maggie is well on her way to taking the old Bug for a spin on the NASCAR circuit.

Box Office:
$50 million.
Opening Weekend
$12.709 million on 3521 screens.
Domestic Gross
$66.002 million.

Rated G

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 10/25/2005

• Audio Commentary with Director Angela Robinson
• Bloopers
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Alternate Title Opening with Optional Commentary
• “A Day at the Races” Featurette
• “Breaking the Rules: Stunts from Herbie: Fully Loaded” Featurette
• “Bringing Herbie to Life” Featurette
• Music Video
• Sneak Peeks


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 27, 2005)

Am I the only one who read a probably unintentional double entendre in the title of Lindsay Lohan’s latest, Herbie: Fully Loaded? And am I also the only one who finds it surprising that the burgeoning sex symbol/party girl still does Disney family fare like this? Don’t take that as an insult toward anyone involved. I simply thought that Lohan’s image had moved so far away from this material that she wouldn’t be appropriate for it.

I thought wrong, as Lohan worked out just fine in this surprisingly entertaining update of the old Love Bug series. At the film’s start, we learn that Herbie’s fallen on hard times. He ends up in a junk yard where he antagonizes the owner (Jeremy Roberts).

In the meantime, we meet graduating college student Maggie Peyton (Lohan). Her dad (Michael Keaton) runs a not-too-successful racing team for which her brother Ray (Breckin Meyer) drives. Dad buys Maggie a junker to drive during the few weeks she’ll be in town before she leaves for an entry-level job at ESPN in New York.

Maggie chooses Herbie – or rather, he selects her. She soon learns the car has a mind of his own and possesses driving skills well beyond those of the usual 1963 Beetle. He also plays Cupid as he reintroduces her to an old high school classmate and friend, Kevin (Justin Long).

The pair take Herbie for a spin, but the car navigates and lands them at a local car rally. There we meet hotshot, arrogant stock car driver Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon). Herbie doesn’t like the jerk, so he antagonizes him into a street race. Maggie ends up behind the wheel in disguise, so no one knows she was there when Herbie shocks the viewers and wins.

This sets the rest of the movie into motion. Trip obsesses about his loss and organizes a tournament to get a rematch. We see how Maggie and Herbie deal with this as well as concerns related to her family’s racing team.

I definitely went into Herbie with low expectations. Oh, I enjoyed the original Love Bug for what it was, but it seemed unlikely that a modern update aimed at kids would appeal to 38-year-old me. Given my negative thoughts about director Angela Robinson’s prior flick – the dull, campy DEBS - I really thought this flick would stink.

Maybe the film just helped me reconnect with my own childhood faves, but darn if I didn’t have a blast with Herbie. Robinson managed to avoid most of the pitfalls into which I expected her to get trapped. Herbie plays things straight for its genre and doesn’t pour on irony or campiness. It evokes the cheerful spirit of the original film and doesn’t try to be hip or self-aware. It embraces the fun of the concept and skips the usual 21st century attitude.

The film modernizes its effects but also still manages to feel like a sibling to the original. We get a few nutty CG elements – such as when Herbie’s entire body makes a “face” at Trip – but most of the effects felt like minor updates on those in the first movie. I mean that in a positive way, as Herbie evokes that film’s low-tech charm. The visuals work just fine but they don’t become an intrusion or a distraction. They blend neatly and add to the flick’s pleasures.

As was the case in the original, Herbie himself remains the star. They can still make that little Bug charming and delightful. We really feel for him and care about what will happen to him. Granted, we know he’ll end up fine in the end, but we still get our emotions played as we worry about him.

To my surprise, Lohan never turns into a distraction. Her performance her much more strongly evokes her turn in The Parent Trap than her work in Mean Girls. That’s not a slam on the latter, but her cattier performance in that movie would be out of place in the earnest Herbie. Granted, Lohan may be a little too sexy for a spot in a “G”-rated flick – her chest alone should ensured a “PG” – but she can still fit in well with the Disney style.

Herbie: Fully Loaded doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, and that’s precisely why it works. The movie offers a gentle update on the old series but it still remains connected with those efforts. That makes it something of a throwback, and a satisfying one at that.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B+

Herbie: Fully Loaded appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A consistently solid transfer, almost no issues created concerns.

Sharpness always looked great. Maybe a smidgen of softness crept into a few wider shots, but those didn’t become a distraction. The movie looked tight and well-defined. I saw no jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge enhancement appeared minimal at worst. Print flaws were absent on this clean presentation.

Colors seemed quite nice. Given the movie’s cartoony feel, I expected a lively palette, and the hues followed along those lines. They were consistently bright and dynamic. Blacks were deep and firm, and shadows looked clean and smooth. Actually, Maggie’s nighttime drive in Trip’s car was a little dense, but not badly so. Ultimately, I liked this transfer quite a lot.

In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Herbie: Fully Loaded was very satisfying. What with all the driving sequences, the soundfield had plenty of opportunities for activity, and it usually made good use of them. Cars zipped around the room and filled it well. The climactic race was slightly and strangely subdued in that regard, but it still came across with good life. Music displayed solid stereo imaging, and the entire production offered a strong sense of place and movement.

Audio quality was also very good. Speech sounded clear and concise, with no distortion or related concerns. Music was bubbly and bright through the film, and effects worked well. Those elements seemed clean and accurate, and bass response added good bite to the proceedings. This ended up as an enjoyable soundtrack that worked for the movie.

A mix of extras round out the DVD. These open with an audio commentary from director Angela Robinson. She offers a running, screen-specific discussion. Robinson touches on the expected array of subjects. She chats about challenges related to an update of the old Love Bug series and changes made along the way. She gets into script alterations, casting and the work of the actors, various visual and practical effects, locations, and general notes.

A few short lulls occur, but Robinson usually remains lively and energetic. Like the movie itself, she makes this commentary substantially more entertaining and informative than I expected. She digs into her choices with uncommon depth and relays all of the thought processes that affected the production. She doesn’t bore us with too much praise either. Overall, this is a very good track.

The usual set of Bloopers pops up here. This reel lasts five minutes and 16 seconds. Regular readers will know that I rarely dig this sets of goofs. Does anything unusually entertaining appear in this package? Not really. There are a few moderately funny wisecracks, but mostly we get the usual mistakes and silliness. Expect a lot of Lohan’s squeaky squeal.

Seven Deleted Scenes run a total of 11 minutes, 48 seconds. We also find a three-minute, 30-second Alternate Title Opening. Some fairly substantial deletions occur, mainly in regard to a discarded subplot about Ray Jr. We also see a scene that actually acknowledges Maggie’s sexiness; while this makes sense in real world terms, I’m glad it got the boot since it seems out of place in a “G”-rated Disney flick. The “Alternate Opening” offers an animated introduction to the characters and story. It’s cute and would have made an interesting start to the movie; I think it’s just as legit an opening as the one they utilized.

All of these can be viewed with or without commentary from Robinson. She continues her chatty ways here. Robinson lets us know good notes about what the scenes attempted to do and why she cut them. She also tosses out some nice production insight. Robinson makes her commentary useful.

After this we find three featurettes. A Day at the Races lasts 13 minutes and 55 seconds and includes movie clips, behind the scenes shots, and notes from Robinson, actors Lindsay Lohan, Matt Dillon, Justin Long, and Breckin Meyer, NASCAR driver Deborah Renshaw, Circle Bar Racing’s Gene “Gator” Morris, and the Richard Petty Driving Experience’s Jason Allen. We learn about the racing-related training and experiences as well as some facts and info about NASCAR provided by Renshaw. The show aims at younger fans but includes enough fun notes about the tutorials through which the cast and crew went to become interesting for older viewers as well.

The nine-minute and eight-second Breaking the Rules: Stunts from Herbie: Fully Loaded provides notes from Robinson, Lohan, Meyer, Dillon, stunt coordinator Andy Gill, racing stunt coordinator Steve Kelso, 2nd unit director/stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos, and co-producer Lisa Stewart. This covers Herbie-related issues as it tells us how they created the scenes in which he races in a variety of special ways. Some of this transcends “stunts” to get into special effects, but I suppose it all falls close enough to the appropriate banner. In any case, “Rules” covers the information with a reasonable amount of depth as it briskly runs through its notes.

Finally, Bringing Herbie to Life fills 11 minutes and 42 seconds. We hear from Robinson, Dillon, Gill, Lohan, Stewart, production designer Daniel Bradford, visual effects supervisor John Van Vliet, executive producer Tracey Trench, sound designer and supervisor Scott Gershin, supervising puppeteer Robert Short, actor Cheryl Hines, and special effects coordinator Matt Sweeney. As expected, “Life” covers all the various techniques used to turn a VW Bug into a believable character. This goes over the practical and CG methods and gets into some design concerns. We also get nice notes about audio issues connected to Herbie. Like the other featurettes, it tends to be fluffy, but it deals with the basics in a decent manner.

We get a Music Video for Lindsay Lohan’s “First”. Lohan doesn’t look terribly good as a glam blonde, but at least the video’s more ambitious than most. It usually keeps movie clips in the background and combines lip-synch with some race elements. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s fine for what it is.

The DVD opens with some ads. We get promos for Lady and the Tramp, The Chronicles of Narnia, Sky High, and Kronk’s New Groove. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks domain along with previews for Antarctica: The Journey Home, Glory Road, and Walt Disney World’s “Extreme Stunt Show”.

Dear lord – never did I think that I’d review Herbie: Fully Loaded and give it anything other than a resoundingly negative reception. To my surprise, the flick offered a warm and charming little throwback experience. The DVD features very good picture and audio plus a glossy but often useful set of extras highlighted by a fine audio commentary. Families looking for a movie to watch together should give this one a look.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.375 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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