HERBIE FULLY LOADED (2005)
Here we go! The final Love Bug sequel. Lindsay Lohan. Herbie. NASCAR. Vroom vroom. Let’s get at it.
Once a huge racing star, Herbie the Love Bug has fallen on hard times. We are told this through a relatively fun opening credit sequence full of informative headlines…
…though the small print isn’t really coherent.
Things looks bleak, as Herbie struggles against sadistic mechanics who are attempting to crush him into scrap metal. Thankfully, our beloved Bug is saved from this terrible fate when he is given to Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan) as a graduation gift from her NASCAR racing/mechanicking/team-owning dad (Michael Keaton).
In his very next film with Disney, Keaton goes from being a driver to being a car.
Herbie is back to his old tricks, scaring people to death, driving them places they didn’t want to go, and helping people to fall in love by locking them up inside his metal body. Aww. In just this manner he tries to hook Maggie up with her mechanic (Justin Long), despite the fact that he’s a creep who tries to sneakily watch her while she changes. Herbie also instigates a racing feud between Maggie and Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon), professional NASCAR asshole.
Yay, racing in a racing movie!
It’s nice when that happens.
Oh, and apparently Herbie can read your mind now, because when Maggie imagines grinding (skateboard, not otherwise) up on a rail during a race, Herbie is able to pick up on her thoughts and make that happen. That’s certainly not terribly creepy. Oh, also, Herbie has the hots for a much newer Bug. We know this because he gets an antenna erection.
Men, women, cars, Dean Joneses, Herbie’s love has no limits.
But Maggie bets Herbie on the outcome of a race and starts admiring another car, which, as anyone who has watched The Love Bug can tell you, is a perfect way to fuck up Herbie’s shit.
Herbie sabotages the race, because of course he does. Shit, now Herbie is stuck in a monster truck show!
He survives, but gets pretty fucked up.
Fucked up as in beaten up, not as in fully loaded.
Meanwhile, a character we don’t care about has dropped out of a big race. Maggie wants to race, but Herbie is all beat to hell. So Justin Long fully loads him, presumably. Then it’s off to the races! How a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle could be entered into a stock car race, especially one at the Nextel Cup level, is more or less glossed over.
At least he managed to scrounge up some sponsors.
The race is raced, and the movie pulls out all the NASCAR stops. Unfortunately, as far as racing goes, NASCAR is pretty boring.
Pit stops are had.
Physics aren’t important.
Victory donut! (Because of course Herbie won.)
Yay! Winning the race is everything. Maggie has a job racing stock cars, and Herbie drives off with a New Volkswagen Beetle. The end.
Every time I watch a Love Bug sequel, I ask myself, “Would Herbie’s actions be anywhere near acceptable if he were a human?” In this context, Herbie Fully Loaded is about a middle-aged former celebrity who has found himself tied up by a couple of hillbillies who want to murder him. He rebels by expelling gas into their faces, squirting his fluids onto their shoes, and road-hauling them.
Eventually he is saved from this living hell by a woman half his age. After leering at her for a few minutes, he promptly kidnaps her and endangers her through reckless driving. Then he unexpectedly splurts all over her boobs.
Somehow, the woman he is infatuated with continues to put up with his shit. He encourages her to pursue a dangerous career in racing (largely to promote his own interests) all the while patting her on the butt, splashing her with water, and from time to time becoming visibly aroused. He helps her with her racing career, and comes very close to taking all the credit. He also squirts some of his bodily fluids on some other guy.
In the end, he leaves the young woman for a younger model, but no one really cares. The moral? Herbie is a horny old skeez, who has a thing for soaking people with his fluids. Fun. At least he wasn’t trying to murder anyone this time.
WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIKE IT?:
Hear me out, I think this movie may get a disproportionately bad rap. Sure, it’s corny, and skeezy, and there’s some terrifying CG, but it isn’t all bad.
Okay, so that’s pretty damning, whatever it is.
Monster Herbie aside, there are a lot of really cool practical effects in this film. Herbie himself was a beautiful puppet with significantly more points of articulation than he had in previous movies.
The movie is probably not helped by the fact that its main character is hard to sympathize with. Herbie has always been a terrifying sociopath of a car, but for some reason his antics seem a lot creepier when their victim is Lindsay Lohan, not Dean Jones. (Is that sexist? It might be.) In any event, it’s never pleasant to be reminded that our childhood heroes may in fact be horrible people (or cars).
Actually, Lohan and Herbie might get along.
Honestly, I think that a cultural disdain for Lohan may also have pushed the ratings down a bit. Every time I’ve heard this movie talked about disparagingly, it’s been described as “the Lohan one.” To be fair, she put out a perfectly fine performance, so I don’t think the movie should take too much of a dip on her account, but hey, IMDb crowds aren’t always the most consistent or fair judges. What are you going to do?
MOST REGRETTABLE MOMENT:
For all of its bizarrely sexual moments, and actually, in light of them, there is nothing in this film more regrettable than Disney’s decision to digitally reduce the size of Lindsay Lohan’s breasts in post. It’s alright to make sex jokes one after the other, but boobs? What will the children say if they realize that breasts are a body part that exist? Fuuuuuuck. On a side note, they didn’t even do a very good job. In some scenes, whenever Lohan moves the CG on her chest becomes distressingly visible. Never before has the phrase “uncanny valley” provided greater potential for double entendres.
You can’t really see it in a still, but still.
Hey, at the end of the day, it’s okay if Herbie squirts his fluids on someone’s tits, just so long as the breasts in question are no more than moderately sized.
It’s terrible. It’s questionable. It’s dumb. But hey, it’s less boring than Herbie Goes Bananas. And it’s significantly more coherent than Herbie Rides Again. Herbie Fully Loaded lands solidly in the middle of the franchise. There is some occasional Herbie-related fun in here. Is that a recommendation? I’m honestly not sure that I know anymore.
The Shaggy Dog (2006)