Herbie: Fully Loaded
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie includes images potentially disturbing for small children during a demolition derby, when a monster truck targets Herbie the car, and slight sexual innuendo concerning Herbie's interest in an apparently female yellow Volkswagen (his antenna goes "erect" at the sight of her, an allusion that will likely go right over the head of the youngest kids). There are many brand-name logos present.
What's the story?
HERBIE: FULLY LOADED begins as Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan) graduates from college and plans to leave for a new a job at ESPN. This future pleases her NASCAR star father, Ray (Michael Keaton), but she really wants to race. But Dad refuses to let her drive because years ago she totaled a street racing car. Maggie's graduation present changes all this: Herbie, a 1963 Beetle she and Dad find in a junkyard, has "personality" and what seems a singular will to race. With Maggie at the wheel but not exactly steering, Herbie wangles his way into a street race with egotistical NASCAR superstar Trip (Matt Dillon), which she wins. Trip sets up a rematch, for which Maggie and her mechanic Kevin (Justin Long) rebuild Herbie. Their prep means she has to lie to Ray. Trip's eventual efforts to undermine Herbie lead to the very depressed and abandoned Bug's engagement in a demolition derby where he's smashed up by a monster truck before Maggie shows up to inspire him.
Is it any good?
Kids may get a kick out of the lovable car revived, but adults will find the trendy NASCAR connection slow going, and the story clunky and mostly unfunny. While the movie is focused on Herbie and Maggie's "relationship" (they learn to have faith in each other, though thankfully, each has a romantic partner -- Maggie likes Kevin and Herbie a yellow bug), it also illustrates the business of NASCAR. That is, it shows how teams need sponsors and features actual logos prominently (Cheetos, Home Depot, Tropicana).
The crossover marketing goes so far as to include a kind of human product placement: Herbie: Fully Loaded features brief appearances by real-life drivers like Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Maggie's repeated lies to her father concerning her racing. How could she have achieved her goals without lying? How might her father have been less rigid about rejecting her desire to race? How is his resistance based on the idea that her brother can race, but a girl should not? Families might also talk about the cheating by the champion driver and his punishment (he's designated "crazy" and carted off in an ambulance, even though his belief that the car is "out to get him" is technically correct).