Few Hollywood moppets have grown up as fast as Lindsay Lohan. One moment she's the freckly-faced, button-nosed tyke from The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday; the next she's the ganja-smoking, rampant wild child forever at the mercy of dipso parents, ram-raiding paparazzi and mysterious health complaints. All of which makes it rather hard to swallow her wholesome turn in Herbie: Fully Loaded - especially after reports that her bulging jugs had to be digitally doctored following complaints from parents at test screenings.
It would be a shame, though, if Lohan's off-camera shenanigans were to impact negatively on this enjoyable Disney remake, which resurrects one of the Mouse House's most durable properties with wit, pace and a fair helping of charm. Okay, so there's nothing here we haven't already seen in The Love Bug or its three sequels, while Herbie's repertoire of tricks (wheelies, winking headlights, the occasional oil ejaculation) hasn't grown any since his last straight-to-video outing in 1997. But, in many ways, that's the secret of his success, helmer Angela Robinson - - whose lesbian spy romp DEBS was one of last year's guiltiest pleasures - - being savvy enough to realise what ain't broke don't need fixing.
What embellishments there are aren't always welcome - - a Fast And The Furious-style zoom into Herbie's clanking innards, for example, or a tricked-out make-over that makes him look like something out of Pimp My Ride - and the cameo appearances from `star' drivers of the NASCAR circuit won't cut much ice this side of the pond. Still, the racing scenes have a real zip to them, while Matt Dillon serves up a prime slice of cartoon villainy as the cocky heavy, outraged to be bested by a "hunk of junk" with a chick at the wheel.
Was the world crying out for another Herbie film? Probably not. But you could do worse than taking it for a spin.
Herbie rides again in a family-friendly comedy that'll keep the kids entertained and the parents far from bored.