Opening 4 Aug 2005
Writing credits: Gordon Buford, Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Principal actors: Lindsay Lohan, Michael Keaton, Matt Dillon, Breckin Meyer, Justin Long
This new version about Herbie, the 1960s original Volkswagen beetle, begins in a California junk yard where Maggie (Lindsay Lohan) selects a used car, a graduation gift from her father Ray (Michael Keaton). Naturally the car is Herbie, who actually chooses Maggie. She drives him to Justin’s garage for a face lift. Race driver Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon) comes to town and brags about his achievements behind the wheel. Herbie can not resist the challenge of a race and Trip says, “What can I lose? It’s a Beetle.” Maggie, incognito as a guy named Max, climbs through the car window to take the wheel and wins. Maggie, being mere flesh and blood, succumbs to the charms of Trip, loses Herbie and later rediscovers him as the underdog in a demolition derby. This, too, he survives to reemerge in full glory as a contender in a NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing) race.
Although this is the fourth sequel to follow the original 1968 Love Bug film, as well as a TV series, and although the storyline follows the old struggle-success-struggle-greater success pattern, the film is still fast-moving and fun. Maggie’s father disapproves of her car racing; Maggie and Justin are tenderly in love; Herbie has a crush on a new model VW. There are valid messages about struggling under adversity, empowerment of girls, and recognizing true friends. Product placements abound, e.g., DuPont, Home Depot, and Goodyear. The soundtrack is fine with old and new songs, e.g., Lionel Ritchie and Van Halen. Lohan, looking a lot like Demi Moore, does well. Thirty-six cars were necessary for Herbie’s “costume changes” with everything from a junkyard- to a NASCAR-look. My cinema was full of children who were happiest when personified Herbie was lovesick, jealous, defensive, insulted, angry, unforgiving, depressed, resigned, aggressive, happy, sad, afraid, stubborn and wistful to become a Ferrari. Not so easy, when your sole means of expression are your headlights. Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.) directs. (Becky Tan)