10 March 2008 | bob the moo
Good clean unpretentious fun that is as charming and winning as it is silly
Maggie Peytton is not overly impressed when her graduation gift from her race driver father is a busted VW beetle. Planning to ditch it at a gathering of car fans, Maggie inadvertently finds herself in a promotional street race with undefeated NASCAR champion Trip Murphy. What nobody knows is that this little VW is none other than former sensation Herbie sadly now confined to the scrap heap of history (literally). When Maggie wins, Murphy is outraged and sets out to engineer a rematch while Maggie tries to work out quite what it is about this little car that makes her drive so fast.
I think it is important to come into this film as a fan of the Herbie films rather than someone for whom the laws of thermodynamics must be rigidly applied across all film genres. I say this because much of the film is absurd and there will be those wringing their hands about the simply impossible moves that the little car makes, however these same people should also keep in mind that they are watching a film about a mischievous car that is alive. It is important to enter into the spirit of the film and, in fairness, Fully Loaded does help the viewer as much as possible by being wonderfully charming and disarming.
It doesn't really have a bad bone in its body and I must admit that I found it refreshingly clean family entertainment that was easy to enjoy even if it was just as easy to forget. Of course if you're not sold on this charm and find it grating or silly from the start then you should bail out because it will not get easier for you as it gets sillier the longer it goes on. Director Robinson delivers a good clean script really well, not making it post0ironic but totally hitting the innocent charm that made the character so good in the first place. Herbie himself is quite fun but it is the main cast that do the harder job of getting the mood right.
Ignore her real-life personae and just watch Lohan for what she does here and you'll find her performance to be quite good and fitting the film. Keaton, Dillon, Long and Meyer are all solid and provide the film with a professional feel in the cast. Overall then this is a fun and clean family film that is surprisingly charming and effective. Getting into the swing with it is important as the action is very silly at times and it is only if you are feeling it that you can forgive it. For me, I was right there with it and enjoyed it for the simple fun it was.