There are a lot of people who don't like Disney's business practices
or the way they chose to handle their DVD releases. But one thing
the Disney Company excells at is making family entertainment. There
was a time not too long ago when Disney was practically the only company
that made movies aimed at the entire family. And though Dreamworks
and others have jumped onto the family friendly bandwagon, Disney still
is a leader in children's entertainment today.
Having grown up watching The Wonderful World of Disney on TV
and pestering my poor parents to take me to the theater every time another
Disney movie was released, I am thrilled that the mouse is now releasing
some of their back catalog of live action movies. It is a great delight
to see my two sons enjoying the same movies I loved when I was their age.
One such movie has recently been released; the sequel to The
Love Bug, Herbie Rides Again.
Alonzo Hawk (Keenan Wynn) is a rich industrialist who builds shopping
malls and office buildings on the land where neighborhoods once stood.
He's kicked a lot of people put of their homes, and now he's trying to
get Mrs. Steinmetz (Helen Hayes) to sell the last plot of land he needs
to build the largest office building in the world, Hawk Towers. But
Mrs. Steinmetz won't sell her old firehouse, no matter what the price.
Mr. Hawk decides to send his innocent looking nephew, Willoughby Whitfield
(Ken Berry) who just graduated from law school, to try and talk some sense
into the old lady.
When Willoughby arrives at Mrs. Steinmetz's house, he finds her to be
a kind gentle old woman who thinks that her Volkswagen Beetle (an ex-race
car her nephew, Tennessee Steinmetz, used to work on) is actually alive.
He's convinced that she's going crazy until Mrs. Steinmetz's boarder, Nicole
Harris (Stefanie Powers,) gives him a ride in Herbie. After the wild
ride that ends with Herbie and Willoughby entering a car jousting contest,
he is convinced that Herbie is sentient and that his uncle is wrong for
wanted to tear down the firehouse. Willoughby joins the two ladies
in their fight against the powerful industrialist. Mr. Hawk has a
lot of money and a cadre of expensive lawyers, but the underdogs have the
Love Bug on their side. Alonzo Hawk and his lawyers don't stand a
This was a fun family oriented movie. There were a lot of laughs
and a good deal of action. My two children were rolling with laughter
in some scenes, especially the part where Alonzo Hawk promised to steal
Herbie in 15 minutes or less. That scene left them in stitches.
One of the things that was so enjoyable is that they established the fact
that Herbie was sentient early on, which left the rest of the film for
Herbie's antics. There was plenty of slapstick and a lot of jokes.
The humor starts early and the laughs are steady throughout.
The movie is populated with standard Disney actors. Even the small
parts are filled with faces you'll recognize from other Disney projects.
While the acting wasn't outstanding, it was just what you'd expect for
a family film, and fits the movie well.
This was an enjoyable movie. If you liked the first Herbie movie,
you'll enjoy this one too. It is better than the thrid Herbie movie,
to Monte Carlo and much, much better than the poor final movie in the
This movie has an English 5.1 soundtrack with optional English subtitles.
There wasn't a lot of use made of the soundstage but there was a little
directionality. The sound was clean and clear, with the dialog easy
to understand and the sound effects coming through nicely. The crashes
and building demolition scenes weren't as forceful as they would be had
the movie been made today, but they are loud enough to get the feeling
across. A good sounding DVD.
Disney seems to be a little schizophrenic when it comes to putting out
their classic live action movies. On May 4th, they put out the last
three movies in the Herbie series, two of them were butchered pan and scan
versions, but this one preserved the movie's original aspect ratio.
It was anamorphically enhanced to boot. The picture quality was very
good for a bare bones movie from 1974. The colors were strong and
the detail was excellent. You could clearly see the sweat on Willoughby's
brow as he is dangling from a window washing scaffold 20 stories up.
The print had a few specks but not other damage. I was very pleased
with the way the disc looked.
There were no extras, not even a trailer.
I had a great time watching this movie again. It has been years
and years since I've seen it, but it still has all the charm I remember
from when I was a kid. In some ways it's superior to the original.
There is a lot more humor, but it is a lot less realistic, with Herbie
driving up on the side of a cliff and through the water. But who
turns to Disney movies for realism? If you enjoyed the first film,
this is a worth sequel. The fact that Disney sensibly released this
in an anamorphically enhanced widescreen version with high quality sound
and video is a great treat. Even though the DVD is lacking in extras,
this disc comes Highly Recommended.