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Herbie Rides Again Review

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Alonzo Hawk wants to tear down the home of sweet little old lady Mrs Steinmetz and erect San Francisco’s tallest skyscraper. Fortunately, Mrs Steinmetz’s nephew owns Herbie, the thinking Volkswagen.

★★★★★

This pleasant, forgettable sequel to The Love Bug, one of Disney’s biggest live-action hits of the 1960s, is made on the template of all Uncle Walt’s fantasy comedies back to The Absent-Minded Professor.

Since the Disney Corporation has a reputation for rapaciousness which makes McDonald’s look like an organic soya collective, it’s ironic that Keenan Wynn’s snarling Alonzo P. Hawk – who’d previously given Fred MacMurray a hard time in The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber – is the ultimate capitalist villain, who longs to demolish to Colosseum (‘think of the shopping centre and parking lot I could put there’) and is tormented by a King Kong-inspired nightmare in which he is a giant atop the Empire State Building attacked by miniature flying Volkswagens.

Dean Jones sits out the sequel (Hayes explains Herbie is upset because he has gone on the Grand-Prix circuit and is being unfaithful with other European cars) and the blander Ken Berry does little as a token human hero.

A post-Girl From U.N.C.L.E., pre-Hart to Hart Stefanie Powers is winning in a fetching red beret and matching miniskirt, though her role consists mainly of hitting people with lobsters and surprisingly semi-orgasmic oohs and ahhs as Herbie performs his stunts.

In addition to the living car, the film features a superannuated sentient streetcar and a sentimental jukebox, while the human cast tends to old-timers like John McIntire, Helen Hayes, Huntz Hall and Liam Dunn.

Herbie rode again and again, in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, Herbie Goes Bananas, a 1997 TV movie remake of The Love Bug and the 2005 comeback Herbie: Fully Loaded.