Herbie Goes Bananas Review

The version of Herbie Goes Bananas 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 Rides Again and Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo. An individual release of Herbie Goes Bananas is due in stores from 12th January 2004.

The Film

Poor Herbie. From the glories of winning the Monte Carlo to making friends with a pickpocket and living on the streets all in a few years. Herbie Goes Bananas attempts to give the series a Latin flavour and fails miserably.

This is a flat film. It's curiously uninteresting and never really grabs the attention in the way that the others in the series do. The plot, of course, involves some Inca gold and some mysterious lost city that is never really fleshed out enough for the viewer to care. Herbies' new owners are a pair of happy-go-lucky ne'er-do-wells that are played by Charles Martin Smith and Stephan Burns with about as much charisma as a pair of socks. There is a love interest in the shape of Elyssa Davalos, who plays Melissa, that beloved cliché the academic female who is far to 'klutzy' to be seen with a racing driver. Even one as soppy as Charles Martin Smith, it seems. Our villains are also a wet affair. The normally excellent John Vernon is completely wasted suffering, as all the characters do, from a script that gives whole new meaning to the word 'workmanlike'; you'll be lucky to crack a smile for the whole of the running time.

Herbie's real owner is a small boy, names Pepe, the pickpocket we have alluded to. We're never told how old Herbie is, but he seems to take quite a strong liking to Pepe but this is never cause for concern and the pair manage to, ah, you know, get tangled up with the gold hunters and things like that, but, frankly, you won't care a jot.

The problem with Herbie Goes Bananas is, as stated earlier, the whole thing just feels flat. There is no sense of fun throughout the whole affair and the set pieces are as labouredly as they are far between; even something as gloriously un-PC as Herbie taking part in a bullfight fails to amuse, even in an ironic way. Possibly it's something to do with the 1.33/1 ratio, but the whole thing feels as though it were made for TV. Not late 'night channel 4' TV, but 'Saturday night ITV' TV; it's that poor.

The undemanding child might find something to amuse themselves with in this film, but they'd be better off watching The Love Bug or Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo again. Be warned, though, even the undemanding child will feel cheated by the ending, which seems to suggest an iminent sequel that never arrived.

The Disc

Presented in 1.33/1 ratio, it looks mostly correct and there is no sign of P&S. There are occasions when the characters look slightly mis-framed, so it was probably originally 1.75/1 or 1.85/1. Picture quality is adequate; no major print damage to speak of apart from the odd glitch. It does look quite grainy at times, and colours are rather bland and washed out. Sound is also adequate; dialogue is clear, and the engine noises nice and loud.

No extras, either. Not that you'd really want any.

These films are all part of the box set released by Beuna Vista and the set, as a whole, is nothing to shout about. The Love Bug is the best of the bunch and like the other films will be released separately on January 12th 2004, and you'd be better off waiting for that. It's a shame it's after Xmas, though, as this box set would make a very poor present....

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