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We’ve finally arrived at the final film in the Herbie franchise!
Directed by Angela Robinson, this film at least takes us back to the racing circuit compared to the misguided hodgepodge we had in Herbie Goes Bananas! But, is this film fully loaded or is it missing a few screws? Read on to find out!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
As the opening credits roll, we see a montage of clips from the previous four theatrical Herbie films advantageously painting an incorrect picture of how Herbie who was once a champion has now been in decline. It seems like the end for him when he ends up being transported to a junkyard and seen as nothing more than junk.
The physical appearance of Herbie hasn’t changed much since the previous films with the exception that Herbie’s headlights are now being used as eyes.
Meanwhile nearby, Maggie Peyton, played by Lindsay Lohan, is graduating from college and her hard-working former racer father, Ray Peyton, Sr., played by Michael Keaton, couldn’t be prouder. Things are not going so well for him financially as his son, Ray Peyton, Jr., played by Breckin Meyer, isn’t racing well enough to bring in sponsors. In fact, they only have one sponsor left at the moment, a woman named Sally, played by Cheryl Hines, who tries her best to give the Peytons as many chances as she can.
Anyway, due to their financial straits, Mr. Peyton hasn’t been able to buy Maggie an expensive graduation gift. But, he does take her to the local junkyard so that she can get a car of her very own (a car that she can use for a month before she goes to New York on an internship).
As Maggie explores the junkyard, Herbie sets his sights on her and tries to get her to notice him. She however notices a Nissan that she’s interested in buying, but Herbie accidentally gets dropped on it!
She then reluctantly decides to take Herbie and finds a letter in the glove compartment (presumably left by Jim Douglas) advising a future owner to take care of Herbie. Before Maggie has time to do anything else, Herbie starts driving on his own scaring poor Maggie who tries her best to stop it. Herbie finally stops after driving to a mechanic shop where one of Maggie’s former high school classmates, Kevin, played by Justin Long, works.
It’s clear that Kevin has a crush on Maggie and it may be reciprocal. However, Maggie explains to Kevin how Herbie drives and he decides to go on a ride with her in Herbie. As they test out the car, Herbie’s jerkiness and sudden movements convince Kevin that Maggie is just driving badly at the moment rather than Herbie being the culprit behind it all.
Herbie then drives the both of them to a street-racing festival? get-together? hangout spot? I’m not sure what to call it. But apparently, it’s where street racers go to hang out and race each other. And it’s no stranger to Maggie as she used to street race back in the day, but promised her father she wouldn’t again after ending up in the hospital due to an accident.
It’s here that we’re introduced to Trip Murphy, an arrogant NASCAR racer, played by Matt Dillon. He’s at the event to promote a video game as well as signing pictures of himself. After making a derogatory comment about Herbie, Herbie then goes and “keys” Trip’s car. Maggie is in Herbie at the time, dressed in a racing suit that she found in Herbie’s trunk, and is locked in by Herbie. So everyone assumes that whoever is in the car (Maggie is wearing an opaque helmet) is responsible for damaging Trip’s car.
Trip gets upset at this and challenges Maggie (well, the person driving Herbie) to a race. Maggie doesn’t want to race, but Herbie speeds ahead anyway. As the race goes on, Herbie makes a fool of Trip and ends up winning while Maggie also enjoys the feeling of racing that she hadn’t felt in a long time.
Later on back at the mechanic shop, she tries explaining to Kevin (who is the only person who knows that it was her racing against Trip) how Herbie just kinda mentally connected with Maggie and how he’s the only reason they won. Kevin doesn’t believe this, of course, and just assumes that Maggie is a better racer than she gives herself credit for.
However, this race becomes quite talked-about and Mr. Peyton soon sees video footage of it. He’s upset with Maggie for breaking her promise, but Maggie lies to him and tells him how it wasn’t her who was driving Herbie. Instead she says that it was a friend named Maxx. Mr. Peyton eventually believes this and is relieved to know that Maggie isn’t risking her life again.
Meanwhile, Trip is upset about the publicity of that race and how he lost to a Bug! He then decides that he wants a rematch so he organizes an official street-racing competition wherein racers will race each other eliminating the losers one-by-one with the final winner (whom he assumes will be the driver of Herbie) racing him.
Trip even offers a $10,000 prize to the winner and it’s not long before the press start reporting on the race. Maggie and Kevin soon learn about the competition from a newspaper (surreptitiously showed to them by Herbie) and both realize they could use the money: Maggie for paying rent in New York and Kevin for fixing up the garage. So they decide to enter Herbie into the race (after working on him a bit) with Maggie disguised as Maxx behind the wheel.
The racing competitions go smoothly and as can be expected, Maggie defeats her competition resulting in her having to race Trip himself!
Trip soon discovers that Maggie is actually Maxx, but doesn’t let on that he knows. Instead he offers Maggie (who says she’s Maxx’s sponsor) a deal: if he wins, he gets to keep Herbie, but if Maxx wins, Maxx gets to keep Trip’s fancy race car. Enticed by the idea of owning a fancy race car, Maggie accepts much to Herbie’s disappointment.
Herbie then intentionally loses the race resulting in Trip taking possession of him. Kevin is upset with Maggie that she agreed to that deal and Mr. Peyton finds out that Maggie was the one behind the wheel and is understandably upset.
After she thinks things through for a bit, Maggie realizes that she doesn’t want to go to New York anymore and would rather be a professional race car driver like how her family had been. She goes to Trip to repurchase Herbie, but Trip tells her that Herbie has been entered into a demolition derby. She then heads to the derby to apologize to and rescue Herbie.
Not long after that, Maggie’s brother crashes while preparing for an upcoming NASCAR race resulting in his depth perception being affected. Everyone suggests to Mr. Peyton that Maggie should take her brother’s place, but Mr. Peyton is vehemently against it. This doesn’t stop Maggie though as she enters the race anyway with Herbie (with support from her brother and Kevin) and begins to fulfill her dreams of being a professional race car driver.
Trip Murphy is also in this race and is sure to not let Maggie beat him. And in the beginning, Maggie isn’t winning but when her father joins the pit crew (after seeing Maggie on television), she and Herbie get the encouragement they need now that Mr. Peyton is supporting them.
Maggie and Herbie win the race while Trip gets transported away in an ambulance after realizing that Herbie is alive and raving about it. Maggie and Kevin become boyfriend and girlfriend presumably and the Peytons’ sponsorship problems are solved presumably.
And that was Herbie: Fully Loaded presumably. It’s not a fully loaded film, but it’s inoffensive. It’s way more of an enjoyable film and a way better Herbie film than Herbie Goes Bananas ever was!
Matt Dillon gives the best performance in the film. Everyone else is kinda just average at best or just bad mainly due to not being onscreen long enough.
The usual Herbie stunts were good enough and while the use of CGI at times seemed out of place, it didn’t feel insultingly so. One thing that did stand out to me for this film was the amount of product placement! From Bass Pro Shops to ESPN to Tropicana, so many different companies seemed to have made their mark of the film! I’m not saying it’s bad; I’m just saying it definitely stands out.
Summing up, the film is incredibly…ok, but I guess calling the film Herbie: Incredibly OK would not have boosted the box office revenue.
So, my final score for this film is 26/35 = 74.29% (C) !
The next review will be posted on November 20, 2018.