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Herbie: Fully Loaded   

Review: written March 2017

Formulaic in the best tradition of Disney

I don't know I have met anyone who claims that any of the Herbie movies were their favourite... they just seem to hold a kind of cosy communal memory of a certain era of Disney family movies.

This movie will certainly not change that - it is pretty derivative and formulaic. However, on the plus side, it is faithfully based on a formula which has been shown to work pretty well.

Herbie is a '63 Volkswagen Beetle, with a life and heart of its own. Its glory years apparently over (as seen through a montage of previous movies over the titles), Herbie is at the scrap heap when bought for tomboy racer Lindsay Lohan, by her father Michael Keaton. I'm not a Lohan fan, but the casting works rather well. She plays the woman in a man's world of racing quite convincingly, and Keaton hardly stretches himself but adds a little credibility to the movie just by being there. Matt Dillon plays the panto villain with ease and Justin Long plays the obligatory PG-friendly love interest.

The stunts and effects are everything you expect from a Herbie movie, with a dash of cgi effects thrown in for good measure. The cgi is used sparingly, keeping the flavour of the original movies, but where it is used it is done well. Best use has to be when Herbie `pulls a face' in Ted Avery style when Matt Dillon looks away. Slapstick moments are present and correct to keep the young `uns happy (oil in the face, hubcap in the shin, that sort of thing).

So what's it actually about? Not much - Lohan is at first unwillingly dragged back into racing with Herbie's help, only to realize it is her true calling, and of course convincing her dad along the way. In terms of tone, the slapstick is kept to the beginning of the movie, then towards the middle things get `serious', then we have Herbie's redemption at the end with some actually rather good racing scenes.

It won't break records for imagination, but it has faithfully kept to a winning formula, and as such passes muster. Kids should enjoy.

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