Herbie Goes Bananas (1980)

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You know what comes to my mind when I think of Herbie, the Love Bug? Racing? What rubbish! I, of course, think of annoying kids, cruise ships, bullfights, and Incan treasure thieves!

Or am I?

Directed by the late Vincent McEveety, Herbie Goes Bananas is not only the fourth entry in the franchise, but also the worst one, by far! Read my review to see what I mean!

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

The film begins in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where we see two friends, Pete and D.J., played by Stephen W. Burns and Charles Martin Smith, respectively. They are in Mexico to pick up that famous Volkswagen Beetle, Herbie, which they inherited from Pete’s uncle, Jim Douglas.

Gosh, these two are bland! Especially Burns!

Why is Herbie in Mexico? I’m not sure. But upon arriving at the garage to pick it up, Pete and D.J. can’t believe that this was once a champion racecar. Not long after that, they realize that their wallets have been stolen by a young local kid, Paco, played by Joaquin Garay III.

You mean, there’s three of you running around this place?

Using Herbie, they drive around the town looking for Paco. Unbeknownst to them, Paco is also being sought after by a group of shady characters, led by Prindle, played by John Vernon. Prindle and his gang have come to know of some Incan ruins nearby filled with valuable treasure! However the only way they can locate the ruins is by a piece of film inside Prindle’s wallet which Paco has stolen also.

Pete and D.J. manage to catch up with Paco and retrieve their wallets, but before Prindle and his gang can lay a hand on Paco, Herbie (unbeknownst to Pete and D.J.) signals to Paco to hide in his hood. Paco gets inside the hood and Pete and D.J. drive off not knowing that they have a literal stowaway!

Unbeknownst to Paco though, the only way for Herbie to remain sentient is to eat the bodies of young boys! The poor sap fell right into his trap!

Pete and D.J. board a cruise ship heading for Rio de Janeiro wherein they hope to enter Herbie as a racecar. Herbie has been stowed in the storage area of the cruise ship and Paco soon befriends the sentient car calling it Ocho (since its number is 53 and 5 & 3 are 8).

Smart kid, huh?

Aboard the ship are a couple of interesting characters including the captain of the ship, Captain Blythe, played by Harvey Korman. Korman is pretty much the only actor fully enjoying his role giving an over-the-top performance as a captain in love with the naval ways!

Amongst the passengers are Louise Trends, played by Cloris Leachman, and her daughter, Melissa, played by Elyssa Davalos. “Aunt” Louise has her eye on the captain whilst Melissa has her eye upon completing her doctorate in anthropology. Pete and D.J. meet them and soon, D.J. has a plan. He will try to convince Aunt Louise to sponsor them in the race (as she is quite wealthy) while Pete will try to get Melissa to fall in love with him.

However, below in the cargo hold, Herbie Ocho causes some damage resulting in Paco being held until given to the proper authorities in their next stop, Panama, as well as Herbie Ocho being sentenced to a watery grave!

First, he attempts suicide. Now he’s put to his death. Herbie has a bum streak. In other news, this model of Herbie was never retrieved, so who wants to go looking for it?

In Panama, Pete and D.J. part ways with Aunt Louise and Melissa apologizing to Aunt Louise for losing out on Herbie and for playing with Melissa’s feelings. Melissa hears this and is understandably upset with Pete. Meanwhile Prindle and the gang (who have come to know that Paco was on the cruise ship) arrive in Panama hoping to get their hands on Paco. Unfortunately for them, Paco runs away just in time.

As Paco has fun far away, he soon sees Herbie Ocho in a nearby body of water. It seems that Herbie Ocho survived his plunge and found his way back to Paco. Paco gets some of the locals to help him get Herbie Ocho out of the water.

Happy, hearty roustabouts?

Herbie Ocho and Paco are reunited, but everything’s not safe yet. Prindle and his gang manage to catch up with Paco and give him a job to do. It seems that when Paco stole Prindle’s wallet along with Pete and D.J.’s, he accidentally put the film in the wrong wallet.

So Paco must go steal the film from Pete and D.J. whom he finds working at a new job in Panama. When they realize Paco has stolen their wallet again, they run after him. Paco heads off with Herbie Ocho whom he has painted to look like a taxi. This is when both Aunty Louise and Captain Blythe get into the car at the same time assuming it to be a taxi. Before Paco can get them to leave, Prindle and the gang are also on his tail, so Herbie Ocho speeds off with Aunt Louise and Captain Blythe, essentially prisoners.

Much to Captain Blythe’s horror!

This chase goes on for a while with Pete and D.J. reuniting with Melissa and buy a broken-down bus to chase after Herbie Ocho with, Herbie Ocho entering a bullfight, and Prindle and his gang kidnapping Paco. Pete, D.J., Melissa, Aunt Louise, and Captain Blythe then chase after the villains.

Now we know where the title came from!

Eventually they all catch up and the climax of the film involves Herbie Ocho attacking the villains’ plane spoiling their takeoff. Paco is rescued and is made driver of Ocho Herbie in the Rio de Janeiro race, Captain Blythe reunites with his cruise ship, and Aunt Louise and Melissa seem to become part of Pete and D.J.’s lives.

And that was Herbie Goes Bananas which should probably be called Herbie Gets Boring! The film is extremely uninteresting and, like I mentioned before, not what you’d expect from a Herbie film. Even the name, “Herbie”, is only uttered once throughout the entire film and that’s by the Mexican garage owner from whom Pete and D.J. pick up the car.

Otherwise, he’s Ocho!

The leads are bland, especially Stephen W. Burns, who is one of the blandest guys I’ve ever seen in a Disney film! Joaquin Garay III can get annoying. Elyssa Davalos doesn’t really have much to work with. The only one really eating up the scenery when they’re on is Harvey Korman who seems to have decided that he’s gonna enjoy his role no matter how bad the film is! Cloris Leachman and John Vernon aren’t that bad either.

But other than that, there’s nothing really to praise. The special effects don’t leave any impression, the song (yes, there is a song) seems incredibly rushed, and the ending can’t come fast enough! It’s just bad, folks!

So, the final score for this film is 11/35 = 31.43% (F) !

The next review will be posted on November 6, 2018.

2 thoughts on “Herbie Goes Bananas (1980)

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