Herbie Rides Again Review
The version of Herbie Rides Again reviewed here is currently only available as part of The Herbie Collection (Limited Edition) that also features the other Herbie movies: The Love Bug, Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo and Herbie Goes Bananas. An individual release of Herbie Rides Again is due in stores from 12th January 2004.
Well, those who think that the Disney penchant for making sequels that are pale imitations of their original classics is a recent phenomenon would do well to have a look at Herbie Rides Again. It really is a dismal waste of celuloid.
The plot, as such, is that old chestnut of the evil property owner who wishes to develop land occupied by the innocent old lady. The old lady, of course, has no wish to sell, and you can guess the rest. The old lady, Miss Steinmetz (Helen Hayes) is the aunt of Tennessee (the mechanic from The Love Bug) and a tenuous link is established to explain her ownership of Herbie. Jim Douglas, we are told, has gone off to race foreign cars and thus appears the first clunker in a script that is chock-a-block with, well, things that don't quite make any sense whatsoever. OK, it can be argued that the whole premise of a car with a mind of it's own makes little sense whatsoever, but The Love Bug at least had some respect for it's audience. Herbie Rides Again makes suspension of belief a chore when it should be a joy.
The problem, really, is in the way the whole film hangs together. There is no sense of pace, it's just one set piece after another with little in the way of style or panache to offset the sense of tedium that this tends to inspire. No thought appears to have gone into them at all; Herbie gets chased by a shark, Herbie chases a man around a skyscraper, Herbie takes part in a jousting tournament and so on. It's not that these scenes are problematic in themselves, it's just that they don't really fit in that well - as though the film makers came up with the ideas and then stuffed them into a plot that was far too thin to start with, they really do jar. The villain of the piece, Alfonso Hawk is far too inept to be a real threat. There is none of the evil charm that David Tomlinson brought to the role of Mr Thorndyke from The Love Bug and his antics eventually become tiresome.
The most damning charge that can be laid against the film is that whoever wrote it understands little about children and what concerns them. The climax of the film involves a lackluster car chase involving hundreds of Volkswagens; one of which is one from a wrecking yard. This rather bashed Herbie clone is seen a few times, trying to catch up with the main group, for a comedy shot, and never seen again. What has become of it? We are never told and the viewer must only presume it has given up the ghost and 'died'. This sort of carelessness is bad enough, but what's far worse is a dream sequence about half way through in which Mr Hawk is having a nightmare about being chased by 'evil' Herbies. These creations of a twisted mind would be happy in a David Lynch film, but the sight of hundreds of Herbies with sharp teeth and evil red eyes chasing a man through a forest might disturb the more sensitive child. Not that you would be scared, of course, oh no.
There are some things to enjoy in Herbie Rides Again, though, it's not all bad news. There are some failry amusing, slightly postmodern, sequences; a dream sequence mimicking the end of King Kong and the very climax of the film is a nice homage to the western. Involving the aforementioned legion of Herbies in the role of the cavalry. Stefanie Powers, of course, is a great screen presence and plays her role with great charisma. For those that like this sort of thing, it has to be said she looks rather special in the air hostess uniform.
Herbie Rides Again is a disappointment on many levels, more so when compared to The Love Bug. It's script is dull, the plot convoluted and messy and the characters are pale imitations of the original characters. Presumably the royalty cheques served them well but this film is to be avoided.
Picture quality is merely adequate. It looks like some sort of digital clean up has gone on, but there is an awful lot of print damage in evidence but nothing to drastic that'll spoil the viewing. It is sharp, but looks slightly washed out and colours are quite dull. Presented in a 1.85/1 aspect ratio and to add insult to injury, it’s non-anamorphic
Sound is OK, Stereo and nothing to be concerned about. It's warm, solid and dialogue is clear.
And no extras at all. Well, that's not such a bad thing and after all, this can be seen as a special feature of sorts as it comes as part of the box set. That said, it'll pass the time and undemanding children might enjoy it but you're better off leaving it in the box....