It did take a little bit of intestinal fortitude to sit down and be willing watch Herbie: Fully Loaded, but I did it dammit, because I care about YOU. Fully Loaded is not a remake, but an extension of The Love Bug films with Buddy Hackett and others. In this new edition, Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan, Mean Girls) is the daughter of racing legend Ray (Michael Keaton, Batman) and brother of Ray Jr. (Breckin Meyer, Road Trip). She is going to work for ESPN now …hat she’s just graduated college, but she’s still a racer at heart.
She runs into Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon, There’s Something About Mary), a successful but arrogant NASCAR driver, and races him with her newly purchased ’63 Volkswagen beetle, than she recently got at a scrap yard from her father as a graduation gift. She beats him, and most of the rest of the movie is Trip trying to get revenge, until the inevitable time where Maggie and Herbie race in NASCAR. Does she win? Well, it’s a Disney movie, so you figure it out.
Directed by Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.), at 97 minutes, this movie is a little too long for that runtime. It seems to have a couple of montage videos in it, set to a rockin’ soundtrack. Some music is left intact, like Van Halen’s “Jump”, while others like “Walkin’ on Sunshine” are remade. The performances are fairly stale and somewhat unbelievable. While watching Lohan climb into a race car wearing a barely there skirt may be appealing, it makes no sense in terms of accuracy. Yes, I’m being a geek about this. The other strange thing in this film is the relationship that Lohan’s character has with the car. Sometimes, the car acts like a jealous boyfriend, while other times, it acts like, well, a pimp.
This is the second film from Robinson that I’ve seen (my D.E.B.S. review is on the site also), and while there are some strides in improvement, I hope she’s given the chance to direct something with some bite to it. She brings back Jimmi Simpson, who she worked with in that film, in a reduced role this time around, and Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Cheryl Hines is wasted in her role. All in all, this could have been a more pleasant film if people actually put some effort into it.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen version of the film looks good, with a consistent film grain reproduced during the whole movie. And overall, the image is fairly pristine. But a big issue I had with the movie was the CG effects. Quite clearly, any seams between live and computer elements are very visible on my screen. Perhaps this is diminished on a smaller screen, but I’d doubt it.
There are lots of little rumbles and surround effecting that come on this Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The problem is that most of that action comes during the race sequences near the end, so don’t turn on your subwoofer until about an hour or so into the movie. Or better yet, leave it off, it won’t get too much of a workout.
The extras start off with a commentary by Robinson. She provided a wealth of information on her track for D.E.B.S., and repeats that performance here. She discusses a lot of topics, from the pitch (think “Seabiscuit with a heart”), to illustrating what shots are and aren’t computer generated. She also recalls how it was working with the actors, and discusses the story and some of the more technical points in direction. I hope she finds some material worth her abilities, so she could really run with it, she’s a promising filmmaker. Next up are over 10 minutes of deleted scenes that feature optional commentary by Robinson. After watching these, it seems that Meyer’s character suffered the most from the cutting, plus there appeared to be a storyline where Maggie had a crush on Trip that bordered on creepy, which was thankfully excised. The next three featurettes focus on the production of the film, starting with “A Day at the Races”, which shows the kids why NASCAR drivers are tough, and some of the actors thoughts on the sport. One of the technical advisors on the film provides a crash course on some racing basics too. “Breaking the Rules: Stunts for Herbie: Fully Loaded” helps clear up the differences between a CG Herbie and the real thing, and its illustrated with some production video to help show the trick and stunt driving that a computer couldn’t do. The last featurette is entitled “Bringing Herbie to Life”, which helps clear up any leftover confusion between the CG and production Herbies, and the cast shares their thoughts on the car. There’s a small look at sound design at the end of this piece too. A five minute gag reel seems to be more about scaring Lohan with bugs, rats, heights, or other phobias, and it can be skipped, along with the music video from Lohan and obligatory Disney previews.
One of the few redeeming things in this film that audiences could have enjoyed was how lifelike the car was. And the car’s “behavior” was erratic and a little bit strange that any chance of that was fairly wasted. Robinson’s major film debut wasn’t too bad, but better scripts should come her way to give her a chance to stretch her legs. Any kids I have out there shouldn’t really spend their time on this one.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Deleted Scenes (with optional Director’s Commentary)
- “A Day at the Races” featurette
- “Breaking the Rules – The Stunts of Herbie: Fully Loaded” featurette
- “Bringing Herbie to Life” featurette
- Music Video