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... and all the critics that didn't have children to lug to the screening looked at each other and said "I can't believe I'm sitting for this." We can't speak for anyone else but, ninety minutes or so later, we were eating crow. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
IN SHORT: A most enjoyable family flick. [Rated G. 98 minutes]
Cranky knows it all comes down to whether or not you have preteens to treat to a movie experience. We date to the first Herbie movie and without kidlets to lug, were it not our job, we wouldn't plant for the love bug. Even if we were still getting stoned because, let's face it, it's Herbie and getting ripped would just be wrong . . .Then again, for any young, jealous wife, we wouldn't recommend letting hubby take the kids solo. Lindsay Lohan has, shall we say, sprouted impressively. Enough of the adult stuff, let's get to the movies.
Or let us take a turn and point out that the screenplay includes work by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar, whose Smallville teevee series has made a budding Superman just as enjoyable. We missed their credit in the titles. In retrospect, as a fan of Smallville, we shouldn't be surprised at how much we liked this Herbie.
This Herbie starts off with our hero relegated to the dump. Actually, the only flaw with the movie is that the title credits encapsulate all that is to follow, which means dumb Cranky thought he was looking at a summary of the Herbie movies he hadn't seen in the past three decades. The car, a spunky 1963 Volkswagen Beetle (fondly referred to by all that had one as a "bug") isn't at all about to go quietly into the dump. In Herbie's case, though, fighting back means a quick trip to the line of cars destined for the crushing machinery. Enter college graduate Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan), whose dad NASCAR racer Ray Peyton Sr. (Michael Keaton) is buying her the car of her choice as a college graduation present. Maggie is headed for a job in New York at ESPN and, though a car is useless here in Manhattan, it is a nice drive from her California home to the east coast. So Maggie picks the best car she sees. It's not Herbie.
We're not going to spill the bug's antics. It will thrill any single digit kid and kept us fairly amused while the story spins a love story between Maggie and friend Kevin (Justin Long) contrasted with her brother Ray Junior. aka "Crash" Peyton (Breckin Meyer) utter ineptness at taking over the family business. You can figure it out. The senior Peyton is afraid that his team is going to lose its sponsorship, which is how Sally (Cheryl Hines) and her brand spankin' new 205 bug work into the story.
What, did you think Herbie had given up all hope? Nuh uh.
Maggie is going to New York because dad won't let her race for the team. It's explained simply in the movie and we'll leave it there. The evil villain, so to speak, of the piece is Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon), NASCAR champion and an egomaniac with capital "e". His first encounter with Herbie sets the stage for an elaborate plan to get his hands on the bug to see what makes it tick. Failing that, there's always racing for the pink slip.
Herbie's new career, for a while, is cheating death. The bug will fight it out in a demolition derby. The bug will be rescued and, in doing so, unite a family against all odds (yadda yadda yadda).
Herbie Fully Loaded is fun. It's a lot of fun. Even for a single grownup who hasn't looked at a Herbie movie since Buddy Hackett was involved.
We don't put a dollar recommendation on family movies since all of 'em will get into a VCR or DVD. We will repeat our reco that, if you've got young kids to treat to a movie, Herbie Fully Loaded is the place to do it. If you grew up on Herbie movies, you'll have an equally good time falling in love all over again with the bug.
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