HERBIE GOES TO MONTE CARLO (1977)
Article 4440 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Vincent McEveety
Featuring Dean Jones, Don Knotts, Julie Sommars
What it is: Herbie the Love Bug movie
Herbie is pulled out of retirement to try to make a comeback by winning the race at Monte Carlo. However, Herbie has fallen in love with another car also in the race. Furthermore, jewel thieves have hidden a precious gem in Herbie’s gas tank, and will stop at nothing to get it back.
I really liked the first movie in the series, THE LOVE BUG. The immediate sequel, HERBIE RIDES AGAIN, was a step down, but it had its moments. This entry in the series is a real step down; the story is uninspired, the script is weak, and there was a certain lunatic creativity at work in the first two movies that is completely missing here. The main plot gimmick here has Herbie falling in love with another car, but this concept gets tiresome very quickly. I like Don Knotts, but in order for him to shine, he needs a character with more dimension than he’s really given here; in fact, I don’t think he was particularly well used in his Disney movies. Still, I do admire the stunt work, and I do admire how sometimes there will be some good attention to detail. One particular moment of the movie gives a good illustration of this. There’s a scene where Herbie drives backwards a long way on a narrow dirt road, and I found myself wondering whether it might have been footage of the car moving forward in reverse, which I’m sure would have been easier to do. However, I noticed that the way the dust rose from the car in motion clearly showed that no such trick was used, and I do like that someone cared enough to do it the hard way. Nevertheless, this is overall a fairly disappointing movie, and if the IMDB ratings are to be trusted, the series would sink even lower with the next entry.