- Movie Rating -

Herbie Goes Bananas (1980)

| June 27, 1980

Somewhere in my heart is still lives a 7-year-old me who sat in front of The Love Bug laughing my little head off.  I still find something endearingly cute about that little 1963 Volkswagon Beetle that apparently has a mind of its own.  I even love the bad special effects that make it do some very wild things – I seem to remember a dream sequence in which it did an Indian dance and one where he was the planes from King Kong.  And, we can’t forget that catchy theme song.

I have more or less enjoyed the previous three Herbie movies but I know enough to tell you that they progressively degrade in quality pretty fast.  So now we arrive at the bottom of the barrel, Herbie Goes Bananas wherein the gimmick has completely run out of gas.  It repeats the same tired old gags, tosses itself into some uncomfortable ethnic stereotyping and wastes the considerable talents of Cloris Leachman and Harvey Korman.

The story here is not really a story at all, but I’ll say that it has more meat on it than Can’t Stop the Music.  Herbie is bequeathed to Pete (Stephen W. Burns), the nephew of Jim Douglas, the former driver that was played by Dean Jones in the first and third of these movies.  He didn’t die or anything, he’s just handing the car over to someone that he knows will take care of him.

For a far-too-complicated reason, Pete and his buddy D.J. have to travel to Mexico to get Herbie out of storage and it is clear right away that neither Pete nor D.J. have any idea of Herbie’s special qualities.  That means we get those tired old scenes of people discovering that the car is really alive.  And the subplot – Oh! The agonizing subplots! – starting with Pete dealing with a kid named Paco (Joaquin Garay III) who steals his wallet.  There’s also the business of D.J.’s aunt Louise (Cloris Leachman) trying to get Pete together with her irritating niece Melissa (Elyssa Davalos).  Then there are a trio of crooks on the trail of Incan gold.  Then there’s Captain Blythe (Harvey Korman) who spends a good amount of time trying to fend off Louise’s advances.

They’re all connected in one way or another with Herbie, who spends much of the movie with Paco, either befriending him or trying to rescue him.  The most agonizing sequence involves Herbie being buried at sea by Blythe only to resurface in the Panama Canal.  All in all, there’s nothing here that you didn’t see in the other movies, only the quality is far less appealing.  It repeats jokes from the others while having no real defining quality of its own.  This one is just . . . I’ll say it, spinning its wheels.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized