|Herbie: Fully Loaded - Movie Review
The 1963 VW Bug with a heart is back, and as the title of the
movie implies, he's spunkier than ever. Although evidently attempting to
target a wide audience, Herbie: Fully Loaded captures the
tweener audience the best. Younger children will find
the car himself cute, but can easily tire of the dialogue. It's a
movie that adults will enjoy seeing as well, but some diehard fans
will disapprove of the newly recreated Herbie. Tweeners had the best time with
the movie--it starred tween favorite, Lindsay Lohan, and had a
(tame) romantic sub-plot involving Lohan and Justin Long.
movie opens with a timeline that offers flashbacks to Herbie's glory days, followed by
his descent into obscurity. Despite his efforts to get away,
Herbie ends up in a scrap yard and faces destruction. Luckily for
Herbie (and for the Peyton family), the main character Maggie
Peyton buys him as her temporary car after she graduates from
college and her dad gives her money to buy any car she wants from
the scrap yard. Maggie's going to work for ESPN in a month,
despite her deep-down desire to race. She has racing in her blood,
and with good reason. She comes from a long line of stock car
drivers, and her dad now heads the Peyton dynasty. But her father
doesn't approve of Maggie behind the wheel of a stock car. Dad
places Maggie's brother behind the wheel, even though Ray Jr.'s not as good as her. He says it's because
Maggie was once injured in a street race, but we later find out
that it's really because he is afraid to lose her, as Maggie is a
"spitting image" of her late mother.
In the scrap yard, Maggie finds a letter in Herbie's glove compartment that
effectively tells her that she will be taken care of by Herbie,
and that's exactly what happens. Because of Herbie, Maggie is
re-united with a boyfriend, comes face-to-face with her true
calling, and learns a few lessons about trust, honesty, and respect. She
quickly discovers that Herbie has a mind of his own. Herbie helps
her win a street race against NASCAR champion Trip Murphy (Matt
Dillon), who vows revenge and promptly turns into the movie's
arrogant villain. Herbie's superpowers are largely unquestioned
and how he came to be totally unexplored. However, children really
didn't seem to care how Herbie "came to be"--they were too busy
enjoying his antics.
Themes & Language: The movie includes some sexual
innuendos. With the NASCAR racing scenes, various companies are
plugged, including a very brief but surprising flash of
advertising for "Viagra".
Character Development: Herbie generally comes across as
loving and caring, although he is certainly not above fighting
back and exacting some forms of revenge. Lindsay Lohan is likable
as a young woman at crossroads in her life.
Messages: There's a feminist angle to the movie, as Maggie
races in the guise of a guy called Max in order to hide from
her father who disapproves of her racing. Later, she races as
herself and surprises everyone as the first female NASCAR racer.
Themes of fear (Maggie's father is afraid to lose her, and forbids
her from racing), trust, honesty, and respect are here as well.
Maggie learns a lesson about being honest after she lies to her
father and disrespects Herbie.
Young kids loved the movie for Herbie himself (he
winks, smiles, and performs assorted pranks), and tweeners
enjoyed the focus on the spunky and likable main
character, Maggie. It's very silly and not very believable
for especially logical children and adults, but it
entertains the target audience nevertheless.
Best For: The movie appeals most to kids who are approximately
9-12 years old.
Movie Rating: B+