Herbie Fully Loaded (G) ★★★½

Review Date: June 22nd, 2005

Originally starring in the 1969 movie, The Love Bug, the legendary and magical VW Bug is all buffed up and better than ever in Herbie: Fully Loaded. So start your engines--Herbie is back in town!


With college graduation now behind her, Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan), a third-generation member of a famous NASCAR family, looks forward to her new life in New York working for ESPN. But when Maggie's widower father (Michael Keaton) takes her to the junkyard to pick out a car, fate is about to lead her in another direction. Because it's there that she meets Herbie, a sad little Volkswagen Bug, waiting to become scrap metal. With a little persuasion from the bug himself, Maggie decides to take the old, beat up #53 home and quickly realizes this little car has a mind of his own. Herbie takes her on a wild ride, culminating in beating the reigning NASCAR champ, Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon), in an impromptu street race. Humiliated, Trip will do anything to keep his position at the top and demands a rematch. But Maggie knows she needs to fix Herbie up first and asks her old friend, car mechanic Kevin (Justin Long), for help. Even though her father has forbidden her to race, Maggie has got it in her blood, and in order to save her family's name and business, she's going to team up with the unstoppable Herbie to stake her claim. You can take the girl out of the race, but you can't take the race out of the girl.


Herbie: Fully Loaded's stellar cast puts the high-octane Herbie in gear. Media-hounded Lohan leaves the paparazzi far behind and gives another spunky performance, proving she's got the acting chops to stick it out. But it may be time for you to let go of the Mouse House ears, Lindsay. Move on to bigger, better and Meaner things. Veterans Keaton and Dillon also add credence to Herbie. Dillon's role as the ''villain'' suits him well, as he displays a delightful comedic side, while Keaton does a nice job as the overprotective dad who just doesn't want to lose his daughter like he lost his wife. The sweet-faced Justin Long (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) is Maggie's inspiration and wears his heart on his sleeve. And the usually hilarious Breckin Meyer has a small part as Maggie's brother who knows he isn't the one who should be out there on the track. It would have been nice to see more of him, though.


Director Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.) makes the movie what it is: A high-speed no-brainer comedy adventure. Starting from the opening title sequence, Robinson uses split screens and graphics to enhance the visuals and trace Herbie's historic progression from his Love Bug years to the present. The biggest marvel, however, is Herbie himself. Back in the 1960s, when the original was being made, filmmakers had no idea what model of vehicle they wanted to use in a story about a lifelike car. They filled a Disney backlot with models as diverse as Chevys and Toyotas. But when they asked employees to pick out the car they liked best, the majority of them pet the only VW Bug on the lot-and Herbie the Love Bug was born. For his 2005 makeover, Robinson uses the same classic 1963 Volkswagen design and creates Herbie's realistic movements by using giant robotic puppets, not just CGI. She also had to gather a whole fleet of VW bugs, including the original Love Bug himself. The end result does justice to the classic original and instantly revives the franchise. As Trip Murphy says, ''There is nothing ordinary about this Bug.'' Herbie: Fully Loaded also has a rockin' soundtrack, with old standards from groups such as The Beach Boys, Steppenwolf and Loverboy.

Bottom Line

Herbie: Fully Loaded brings the lovable VW Bug roaring into the 21st century. Kids will love it, while their parents will remember what it was like watching those fun-filled live action Disney films of their childhood.