(Herald rating * * *)
Thanks to John Travolta, now any has-been Hollywood star can re-launch his career. That generally means turning up in some Sundance Film Festival. But legendary racing car star Herbie has gone straight to the Disney family-fuelled adventure comedy format that he became famous for in the 70s.
Aware that young audiences today might not know he used to be a film and TV star, he's attached himself to popular teen queen Lindsay Lohan, who plays his owner, Maggie Peyton.
For those who have never heard of Herbie, he's a classic Volkswagen Beetle, known on the track as Number 53, who has seen better days.
Discovered by Maggie in a car wreckers' yard, she saves him from the crusher, fixes him up, and is surprised to discover that this Beetle is unlike any other car she has ever driven - he has a mind of his own.
Herbie can't resist a challenge or race and the next thing you know, Maggie and Herbie are racing local Nascar champion Trip Murphy and winning.
Lohan is very likeable as Maggie, and a good role model for tween-age girls. She has graduated from school, has career aspirations as a journalist, and when she disobeys her father and starts racing cars against his wishes, she really stresses over it.
Not only that but she's nice to geeks too, with a little summer love developing between her and her devoted mechanic Kevin (Long).
You do feel sorry for Lohan when the time comes for the cheesy motivational speeches between Maggie and her car. It's hard to take a film too seriously when the lead actress has to talk to her winking car about the fact it might not live through the race.
Herbie has also managed to surround himself with a solid supporting cast. Michael Keaton plays Maggie's dad and manager of the Peyton car racing team, while Matt Dillon appears as Trip Murphy, and enjoys the opportunity to camp it up.
Though Herbie's adventures might not be as charming as they used to be, he will make some new fans with this film.
I imagine it's because they are already Lohan's fans.
CAST: Lindsay Lohan, Justin Long, Michael Keaton, Matt Dillon
DIRECTOR: Angela Robinson
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
SCREENING: Village, Hoyts and Berkeley cinemas
(Herald rating * * *)