Herbie Goes Bananas (1980)


USA. 1980.


Director – Vincent McEveety, Screenplay – Don Tait, Based on Characters Created by Gordon Buford, Producer – Ron Miller, Photography – Frank Phillips, Music – Frank De Vol, Special Effects – Art Cruickshank & Danny Lee, Makeup – Robert J. Schiffer, Art Direction – John B. Mansbridge & Roger Maus, Art Direction (Mexico) – Augustin Ytuarte. Production Company – Disney


Joaquin Garay III (Paco), Cloris Leachman (Aunt Louise Travers), Harvey Korman (Captain Blythe), Stephen W. Burns (Pete Stanchek), Charles Martin Smith (DJ), Elyssa Davalos (Melissa Travers), John Vernon (Prindle), Alex Rocco (Quinn), Richard Jaeckel (Shepard)


Pete Stanchek inherits Herbie the intelligent Volkswagen and arrives in Puerto Vallarte to claim it. As he and his friend DJ drive to Brazil to enter Herbie in the Grand Priz, they are inadvertently caught up in the scheme of a group of criminals who want to steal the treasures of a lost Inca city. They are also forced to take on board bookish archaeology student Melissa Travers, her eccentric aunt, a local street urchin and a tyrannical sea captain.

Herbie Goes Bananas was the fourth of Disney’s films that began with The Love Bug (1969) concerning Herbie the Volkswagen that had a personality. Regrettably, by this point, the series has gone the way of all diminishing returns. The high slapstick imagination of particularly the second entry Herbie Rides Again (1974) has turned into much yelling, outrageously over-the-top double-taking and endless slapstick careening – the film does literally indulge in custard pie throwing.

The gags – Herbie confronting a bull in a bullfighting rink or being made to walk the plank – are dreary in both concept and execution. The series was always a juvenile one but this one allows the saccharine schmaltz the other entries kept in check to take over entirely – the point where Herbie befriends the cute orphan-cum-pickpocket and starts to talk with a honking beep is a major low point. The film reaches its nadir when the soundtrack bursts into insipid song about being friends, which features lines like “I bet you a banana you’ll find a friend.” The musical score and soundtrack is geared for maximum pratfoolery. Atypically for Disney, the villains and their scheme remain well in the background.

The other Herbie films are:– The Love Bug (1969), Herbie Rides Again (1974) and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977). This was followed by the dreary, short-lived tv series Herbie, the Love Bug (1981). The Love Bug (1997) (1997) was a tv movie remake of the original. Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005) was a film revival of the series.

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