Pete Stancheck inherits from his Uncle Jim Douglas a race car being stored in Puerto Vallarta. With his friend Davy Johns (D.J. to his friends) accompanying him to P.V., Pete is dismayed to learn that the car is an older model Volkswagen Beetle. But when Pete and D.J. see what the car can do and learn that it somewhat has a mind of its own, they decide to enter it into the Brazil Grand Primeo formula one race. En route to Rio de Janeiro, Herbie, the car, gets Pete and D.J. into one predicament after another as it tries to help its new friend, a streetwise orphan named Paco, who Pete and D.J. encountered in P.V. and who stowed away in Herbie's trunk. Because of these predicaments, Pete and D.J. end up requiring a quick influx of cash and slyly enlist the help of wealthy Louise Trent and her bookish niece, anthropology doctoral candidate Melissa, to be their financiers. Pete's role in the scheme is to woo the shy Melissa, about which he feels guilty. But initially unknown to all of them...Written by
Herbie's name is mentioned only once in the film. This occurs when Pete first picks up Herbie at the beginning. The owner of the car lot tells Pete a story about Jim Douglas and says, "Herbie, he see it, he stop." For the rest of the movie, the car is called Ocho. See more »
When Herbie is thrown overboard, his rear license plate is missing. Later, after Paco rescues Herbie from the ocean, we see the rear license plate once again. See more »
Cloying at times and pretty much to formula but still lively and quite enjoyable by the series standards
Jim Douglas has long retired and has left his car to Pete Staniczek as long as he collects it from South America. So Pete and engineer Davy Johns collect the car to enter it into a race, but they first have to contend with little pickpocket Paco. Despite the look of the car, they take it on the cruise ship with them when they leave not knowing that Paco has sneaked onboard as well to escape the wrath of one of his victims who are part of a gang planning to steal Aztec gold.
This was supposedly the final entry in the series but I suppose that the new 2005 film means that it is number 4 of 5 (so far). The characters and locations have all changed but essentially the formula is still the same physical comedy from Herbie, romance from the driver, a crime subplot although no race as such. In this regard it doesn't do anything particularly special or go anywhere other than you expect it to, but it is inoffensive and not annoying or boring. The comedy is so-so, with plenty of Herbie action for kids (apparently they went through over 20 cars making this) and acceptable humour for adults.
The cast are mixed in some regards they carry the movie but in others they are terrible. The lead cast are mostly poor. Burns shows how enjoyable Jones was because he is totally lacking in charisma or screen presence. Smith does his best to impersonate the usual engineer sidekick (Knotts) by mugging and pulling faces but it never gets past the stage of impersonation to become his own work. Davalos is terribly dull, although her wooden, uninspired delivery does quite compliment Burns. Garay (the third, would you believe) is OK but if you hate "cute kids" in movies then you'll hate his squeaky little performance; however I suppose it is quite cool that the car gets to act opposite an orphan very like Chaplin. Thank goodness for the support cast then, because they do a lot of the work that the lead actors fail to do; not saying that they are that good but at least they are lively and interesting. Korman overacts with little material to work with but he is very funny at times. Leachman is a lot more by-the-numbers and not as interesting. The criminal gang don't have much to do but the faces will be interesting for adults Jaeckel and Rocco for example.
Overall, this is a fairly obvious entry in the series but it is still enjoyable. The overuse of the kid will put many adults off because it brings out some horrible, cloying sentiment but mostly the film is lively and quite enjoyable. Children will enjoy it and adults will be able to watch it without feeling bored.
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