Herbie: Fully Loaded appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A consistently solid transfer, almost no issues created concerns.
Sharpness always looked great. Maybe a smidgen of softness crept into a few wider shots, but those didn’t become a distraction. The movie looked tight and well-defined. I saw no jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge enhancement appeared minimal at worst. Print flaws were absent on this clean presentation.
Colors seemed quite nice. Given the movie’s cartoony feel, I expected a lively palette, and the hues followed along those lines. They were consistently bright and dynamic. Blacks were deep and firm, and shadows looked clean and smooth. Actually, Maggie’s nighttime drive in Trip’s car was a little dense, but not badly so. Ultimately, I liked this transfer quite a lot.
In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Herbie: Fully Loaded was very satisfying. What with all the driving sequences, the soundfield had plenty of opportunities for activity, and it usually made good use of them. Cars zipped around the room and filled it well. The climactic race was slightly and strangely subdued in that regard, but it still came across with good life. Music displayed solid stereo imaging, and the entire production offered a strong sense of place and movement.
Audio quality was also very good. Speech sounded clear and concise, with no distortion or related concerns. Music was bubbly and bright through the film, and effects worked well. Those elements seemed clean and accurate, and bass response added good bite to the proceedings. This ended up as an enjoyable soundtrack that worked for the movie.
A mix of extras round out the DVD. These open with an audio commentary from director Angela Robinson. She offers a running, screen-specific discussion. Robinson touches on the expected array of subjects. She chats about challenges related to an update of the old Love Bug series and changes made along the way. She gets into script alterations, casting and the work of the actors, various visual and practical effects, locations, and general notes.
A few short lulls occur, but Robinson usually remains lively and energetic. Like the movie itself, she makes this commentary substantially more entertaining and informative than I expected. She digs into her choices with uncommon depth and relays all of the thought processes that affected the production. She doesn’t bore us with too much praise either. Overall, this is a very good track.
The usual set of Bloopers pops up here. This reel lasts five minutes and 16 seconds. Regular readers will know that I rarely dig this sets of goofs. Does anything unusually entertaining appear in this package? Not really. There are a few moderately funny wisecracks, but mostly we get the usual mistakes and silliness. Expect a lot of Lohan’s squeaky squeal.
Seven Deleted Scenes run a total of 11 minutes, 48 seconds. We also find a three-minute, 30-second Alternate Title Opening. Some fairly substantial deletions occur, mainly in regard to a discarded subplot about Ray Jr. We also see a scene that actually acknowledges Maggie’s sexiness; while this makes sense in real world terms, I’m glad it got the boot since it seems out of place in a “G”-rated Disney flick. The “Alternate Opening” offers an animated introduction to the characters and story. It’s cute and would have made an interesting start to the movie; I think it’s just as legit an opening as the one they utilized.
All of these can be viewed with or without commentary from Robinson. She continues her chatty ways here. Robinson lets us know good notes about what the scenes attempted to do and why she cut them. She also tosses out some nice production insight. Robinson makes her commentary useful.
After this we find three featurettes. A Day at the Races lasts 13 minutes and 55 seconds and includes movie clips, behind the scenes shots, and notes from Robinson, actors Lindsay Lohan, Matt Dillon, Justin Long, and Breckin Meyer, NASCAR driver Deborah Renshaw, Circle Bar Racing’s Gene “Gator” Morris, and the Richard Petty Driving Experience’s Jason Allen. We learn about the racing-related training and experiences as well as some facts and info about NASCAR provided by Renshaw. The show aims at younger fans but includes enough fun notes about the tutorials through which the cast and crew went to become interesting for older viewers as well.
The nine-minute and eight-second Breaking the Rules: Stunts from Herbie: Fully Loaded provides notes from Robinson, Lohan, Meyer, Dillon, stunt coordinator Andy Gill, racing stunt coordinator Steve Kelso, 2nd unit director/stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos, and co-producer Lisa Stewart. This covers Herbie-related issues as it tells us how they created the scenes in which he races in a variety of special ways. Some of this transcends “stunts” to get into special effects, but I suppose it all falls close enough to the appropriate banner. In any case, “Rules” covers the information with a reasonable amount of depth as it briskly runs through its notes.
Finally, Bringing Herbie to Life fills 11 minutes and 42 seconds. We hear from Robinson, Dillon, Gill, Lohan, Stewart, production designer Daniel Bradford, visual effects supervisor John Van Vliet, executive producer Tracey Trench, sound designer and supervisor Scott Gershin, supervising puppeteer Robert Short, actor Cheryl Hines, and special effects coordinator Matt Sweeney. As expected, “Life” covers all the various techniques used to turn a VW Bug into a believable character. This goes over the practical and CG methods and gets into some design concerns. We also get nice notes about audio issues connected to Herbie. Like the other featurettes, it tends to be fluffy, but it deals with the basics in a decent manner.
We get a Music Video for Lindsay Lohan’s “First”. Lohan doesn’t look terribly good as a glam blonde, but at least the video’s more ambitious than most. It usually keeps movie clips in the background and combines lip-synch with some race elements. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s fine for what it is.
The DVD opens with some ads. We get promos for Lady and the Tramp, The Chronicles of Narnia, Sky High, and Kronk’s New Groove. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks domain along with previews for Antarctica: The Journey Home, Glory Road, and Walt Disney World’s “Extreme Stunt Show”.
Dear lord – never did I think that I’d review Herbie: Fully Loaded and give it anything other than a resoundingly negative reception. To my surprise, the flick offered a warm and charming little throwback experience. The DVD features very good picture and audio plus a glossy but often useful set of extras highlighted by a fine audio commentary. Families looking for a movie to watch together should give this one a look.