First off, let me say I'm glad that this film exists, it being our first Herbie fix in fifteen years, the abortive 1982 television series being the last one. It's great to see good old Herb again, even if it's only a TV movie.
Having said that, let me continue by saying they screwed up pretty bad. There were many major mistakes in this film (which had a good idea and was set up to be a nice nostalgia fest) that really drug the whole thing down. Here's a list, in no particular order. WARNING: The following contains info that could be seen as spoilers.
1. Herbie. Call me a perfectionist, but Herbie just looks wrong here. He should have a gray interior and sunroof, not white. The racing stripes are supposed to be painted on the sunroof, too. The 53' is up way too high on the hood and it's the wrong font as well. They managed to get these things right all through four feature films and a TV series, why not here?
2. Kevin J. O'Connor. I know he's supposed to be an artist, but this guy is just waaaaay too creepy for my taste. It was a good thing in `The Mummy', but here it's out of place.
3. The origin story. I'm sorry, but this just does not jive with what we've been told before. The impression given in `Herbie Rides Again' was that some machines just develop personalities. And did Dr. Stumpfel also build the Lancia in `Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo'? Plus, I'd like to think my government is not THAT stupid. I found their portrayal of our military in here fairly insulting. Plus, in the eighteen years it took to build Herbie, you'd think they'd figure out it was just a translation error.
4. The final race. It was SLOW. In the other films you got a sense of speed. Here it seems like both cars are going thirty-five, a situation which one shot shown at high speed just doesn't fix. Plus, unlike the previous films there is absolutely no suspense about Herbie winning. The character of Simon Moore seems to almost go out of his way to make it easy for them. (Also, Chuck's car troubles were barely worth the first scene with them, we definitely didn't need to cut back to him two more times.)
5. CGI effects. Back in the sixties and seventies, Disney, using only some creative editing and some mechanical know-how, made Herbie appear to do amazing things. It was cheap and you knew it was an effect, but the end result always seemed to look pretty good. Now it's the days of digital effects and we have a digital Herbie. It screams `FAKE!' Unlike the old effects, it's impossible to suspend your disbelief watching this thing. Come on Disney, you sometimes need a guy with a wrench, not a computer, to make things look good.
6. Title. Thanks to lack of creativity in thinking up a title, most people think this film's a remake. It's not. Although it shares a bit of story arc with the original, this is a new film.
7. Horace. The idea of an evil Herbie is seriously creepy, but the filmmakers didn't do much with it. Horace seems to be only a fraction of the menace he could have been.
8. Writing. The dialogue is terrible. It sometimes seems like they wrote the children's novelation first, then the script.
9. Bruce Campbell. Bruce, I really like you as an actor, but could at some point in this film, try acting a just a bit? Just a suggestion.
Well, having said what was wrong, I want to mention something they got very right. The scene where Jim Douglas gets behind the wheel of Herbie for first time in years is a great piece of acting. You can practically see the memories running through his head. It was so perfect, it bought a tear to my eye. Good work, Dean.