Herbie: Fully Loaded

on June 22, 2005 by Bridget Byrne
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"Herbie" is indeed fully loaded -- with ads.

It's inevitable, of course, when a story is set in the world of NASCAR that everything and everybody is plastered with endorsements, but in this case it does seem highly unsuitable to have all this adult-oriented shill directed at young kids in movie theaters.

What the movie doesn't come equipped with is a substantial story. What there is of plot makes no sense and the fact that it's fantasy is no excuse. With the car beetling along on its own, the girl behind the wheel might just as well be a dummy, not someone we are asked to believe is racing to prove something to herself and her loved ones.

Smothered by slam, bam, crash and dash action -- realized with very minor-league special effects -- is any of the touch of magic charm that drove the original "Love Bug" tale about the little engine that could do anything it had a mind to. The little old auto, restored from the scrap heap to race again for glory, struggles to rev up a genuine personality, but only succeeds in leaving the human characters in the dust because they have absolutely no inner life.

Stuck in a role that no one could steer straight, Lindsay Lohan looks aged by the experience as she tangles with her dad (Michael Keaton), who doesn't want his little girl to take up the dangerous family business, and her oily, slick racing nemesis (Matt Dillon). Roles like these are clearly the pits for actors with proven abilities, and it shows. Starring Lindsay Lohan, Michael Keaton, Matt Dillon, Breckin Meyer and Justin Long. Directed by Angela Robinson. Written by Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. Produced by Robert Simonds. A Buena Vista release. Comedy. Rated G. Running time: 95 min

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