Once again, Disney has dusted off an old classic and brought it to life for a new generation. Unfortunately, they should have left it on the shelf.
Herbie first captivated audiences with the release of The Love Bug in 1968. Fans fell in love, following the Love Bug through three more adventures. (Herbie Rides Again 1974, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo 1977, and Herbie Goes Bananas 1980)
Director Angela Robinson creatively catches us up on the past 25 years of Herbie’s life during the credits. Twenty-five years after his last big race, Herbie is stuck in a junkyard, where Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan), a former street racer finds him.
The broken down Herbie becomes a present from her father. (Michael Keaton) We soon learn that Maggie has given up street racing after a near fatal crash. Ray Peyton Sr. (Keaton), a NASCAR crew chief, has vowed that his daughter will never race again. It is clear that Maggie is the only racer that can save the losing team from being nixed by their sponsors.
Soon Maggie realizes that Herbie is not like other cars. He takes control of not only the road, but also Maggie’s life and soon she finds herself beating the reigning NASCAR superstar Trip Murphy. (Matt Dillon)
Trip quickly becomes the token bad guy. Determined to find out the identity of the driver that beat him in a VW Bug. He uses whatever deceitful methods he can to take down his opponent.
The plot is set for a typical feel good Disney movie. The problem is that Herbie: Fully Loaded’s gage runs short on emotion. Maggie’s father and brother (Breckin Meyer) are about to loose their team sponsorship and she must go against her father in order to help them.
There is no connection though between Lohan and Keaton. It feels as if her father is just another guy in the body shop. There is never a doubt that Ray Jr. (Meyer) will get injured and Maggie will defy her father and go on to win the big race. Maggie claims, “All I’ve ever wanted to do is race!”.
Even her love interest with fellow racing lover Kevin (Justin Long), falls short. Other than one kiss, the only good part of their relationship is Herbie’s antics to get them together. One bright spot is Herbie’s comical romancing of a 21st century VW Bug.
This is a Disney movie set up for Lohan’s teenage fans. High on the happy ending, but it runs out of gas over the long haul.