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Herbie Goes Bananas DVD Review

Herbie Goes Bananas

Theatrical Release: June 25, 1980 / Running Time: 93 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Vincent McEveety

Cast: Cloris Leachman (Aunt Louise), Charles Martin Smith (Davie Johns), John Vernon (Prindle), Stephen W. Burns (Pete Stanchek), Elyssa Davalos (Melissa Drake), Joaquin Garay III (Paco), Harvey Korman (Captain Blythe), Richard Jaeckel (Shepard), Alex Rocco (Quinn), Fritz Feld (Chief Steward), Vito Scotti (Armando Moccia)


Herbie Goes Bananas is fourth in the series of films about a charismatic Volkswagen beetle, and for a number of years, it was the last. Then in 1997, for their newly-relaunched Wonderful World of Disney, a telemovie The Love Bug was produced starring Bruce Campbell. Disney has even higher hopes for reviving Herbie next year, as they recently announced plans for Herbie: Fully Loaded, a new theatrical film starring Lindsay Lohan.

Pete Stanchek (Stephen W. Burns) has inherited the one-of-a-kind automobile from his uncle Jim Douglas. Pete goes down to Mexico with his friend Davie (Charles Martin Smith) to pick up the car. There, they come across Paco (Joaquin Garay III), a puny pickpocket. Unbeknownst to them, Paco has hitched a ride under Herbie's hood to eschew three other irate victims of his thievery.

Paco says he loves Americans...but does he just love their wallets? Cloris Leachman and Harvey Korman surprise each other.

Pete and Davie board a ship to Rio to enter Herbie in the Brazil Grand Primeo. On the trip, they meet a shy young woman named Melissa (Elyssa Davalos) and her extragavant aunt Louise (Cloris Leachman), who is trying to find a man for Melissa. When Herbie causes damage on board, Pete and Davie come up with a plan to cover the costs. Pete pretends to like Melissa and Aunt Louise is soon sponsoring the guys for their race.

Meanwhile, Herbie helps little Paco, who has dubbed the car "Ocho", escape captivity. When the gung-ho Captain Blythe (Harvey Korman) has his costume party wrecked by the mischevious boy and car, he sentences Herbie to be dropped in the sea. Herbie winds up dirty and disguised as a taxi and there's Incan gold, bullfights, romance, and some bananas. The bad guys are in pursuit of Paco who misplaced some important film when he ripped off their wallets.

Herbie slides the plank. Paco enjoys the breeze.

Herbie Goes Bananas is an odd direction in which to take the Love Bug series of films, but it is at least entertaining. This is not a refined comedy or anything, but to its benefit, it is also not a mere retread of any of the previous films (the way Monte Carlo was).

The film calls to mind not just the previous Herbie adventures, but the wacky live action comedies that Disney made with frequency in the '60s and '70s. Though not one of the studio's best films, released in 1980, Herbie Goes Bananas is one of the last of its kind.

Buy Herbie Goes Bananas from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.33:1 Cropped Fullscreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Surround (Spanish)
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned
Release Date: May 4, 2004
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
White Keepcase

VIDEO and AUDIO

The helicopter blades atop the frame of the opening overhead shot suggest that this 1.33:1 fullscreen transfer is an open matte presentation. But there did not, for the rest of the film, appear to be an excess of space on top and bottom of the frame. So it's possible that the film is just cropped, and a few scenes gave that appearance. In any event, this isn't the original theatrical aspect ratio, and that's disappointing, at a time when Disney is beginning to do much better at offering catalogue titles in widescreen.

Video quality is not without some problems. Though the transfer is fairly vibrant, the print is plagued by grain and other flaws with some regularlity. The optical shots of the opening credits are expectedly the worst. But some other scenes exhibit problems too.

Without her glasses on, Melissa becomes beautiful! "Hey buddy, get a horse!"

I have no doubt the film could look a bit better in widescreen with the type of remastering that was given to The Love Bug and select other live action catalogue titles. Don't anticipate that happening with Herbie Goes Bananas on DVD here or elsewhere, as it is oddly the only Herbie film which is fullscreen all over the world.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is praiseworthy. The audio isn't as dated as the other Herbie sequels. It's not really a state-of-the-art multi-channel sound mix, but the lively music makes good use of the rear speakers. Dialogue is all clear and understandable. For a 24-year-old film, this track is both satisfactory and the best we can hope for. A Dolby Surround track in Spanish is also included.

EXTRAS

Like the other two Herbie sequels, the closest thing to an extra Herbie Goes Bananas has is a 90-second ad for other live action Disney films on video and DVD. The film is referenced a bit in the bonus features of the great 2-disc Love Bug Special Edition, and the spine of its case lines up perfectly with the other Herbie films. Menus are static 16x9 screens with a blue sky theme.

It's a tight squeeze inside Herbie for six leads. Paco gives this movie one thumb up!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Herbie Goes Bananas, the fourth film in the series, departs from racing and heads to Central America. The film remains entertaining in the spirit of old-fashioned Disney comedies, and it offers an original story. It's not a great movie, but it is innoccous and diverting. This DVD treatment is basic and the lack of a widescreen transfer is disheartening. But after all this time, Herbie enthusiasts are likely to be pleased that this final chapter of the original Herbie movies is on DVD at last.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com
Also available in The Herbie Collection (release date: June 1, 2004)

UltimateDisney.com | Review Index | Live Action (1980-Present) Films Page | May 4 Catalogue Releases

Related Reviews
The Love Bug (1969) | Herbie Rides Again (1974) | Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977)
Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005)
The Strongest Man in the World (1974) | Snowball Express (1972) | Pete's Dragon (1977)
Midnight Madness (1980) | Never Cry Wolf (1983) | Watcher in the Woods (1981)

Reviewed April 29, 2004.