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Herbie: Half-Baked?

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I don't know if I'll actually pay to see Herbie: Fully Loaded, even though my earliest movie memories are of the Super Chief drive-in near Fort Washington, Md. My aunt and uncle hid me underneath the middle bench of Grandma's old white Ford wagon, of course, and I got to see a double bill of Love Bug movies for nothing. Well, except some lines on my forehead where the vinyl welting squished against me. (What's the news about corduroy pillows? They're making headlines!)

No, I don't really need to see the new flick as much as VW needs the buzz to reinvigorate the '06 New Beetle. I can tell you the plot already: earnest race team is befriended by vaguely creepy, anthropomorphically enabled Bug. In total ignorance of the obvious and compelling man/machine metaphysical subplot, they eventually win a race, even though baddies will predictably tamper with the stock storyline. I'm thinking 89 minutes running time. What's the takeaway? The camera work will reveal everything - are Herbie's headlights getting as much screen time as Lindsay Lohan's?

Hey, it's not doing any real damage to the car world - not like Days of Thunder. No actual actors are being harmed, although it's depressing to watch Matt Dillon slump further into career parody. Has it really been 1o years since To Die For? You'll spend ten bucks and might get a laugh or two. But if you're looking for a summer car movie you haven't seen before, drive in somewhere else.

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