tek's rating: meh and a half

Herbie Rides Again (G)
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Caution: potential spoilers.

This is the second movie in the Herbie franchise, following "The Love Bug". It came out in 1974 (the year before I was born), and I have no idea whether or not I saw it when I was a kid. I mean, I probably did see it on The Wonderful World of Disney, but watching it in 2022, nothing about it was particularly familiar. None of the characters from the first movie appear in this one, though one of the main characters, Mrs. Steinmetz, mentions that Tennessee, a character from the first movie, is her nephew. She lives in the firehouse previously inhabited by Jim Douglas and Tennessee, and the movie gives the impression that she's lived there for a very long time, but I'm not sure where she lived during the time of the first movie. Anyway, the movie has a slightly higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes than the first movie does, which I find strange, because I didn't like it nearly as much as the first movie. I don't suppose I can point to much of anything I specifically disliked about it, but I just didn't really like it, for whatever reasons.

There's a man named Alonzo Hawk (who Wikipedia informs me previously appeared in an unrelated Disney movie, "The Absent-minded Professor"), who demolishes buildings to construct new ones. He's already bought up and torn down all the properties surrounding the firehouse, but Mrs. Steinmetz refuses to sell her home. So the whole movie is him trying to get her to sell, and ultimately deciding (quite illegally) to tear down her house, anyway. Toward the start of the movie, Hawk's nephew, who has recently become a lawyer, comes to deliver a humanitarian award to him, because of all the nice things his mother has always said about her brother. His name is Willoughby Whitfield. Hawk sends him to try to convince Mrs. Steinmetz to sell, but he fails. Meanwhile, he meets Herbie the car, who apparently had been left with her by Jim Douglas, who's now in Europe racing with foreign cars. Willoughby also meets Mrs. Steinmetz's former neighbor, Nicole Harris, who has been living with her since Hawk had torn down the apartment building where she lived. While Mrs. Steinmetz takes an instant liking to Willoughby, Nicole takes an instant dislike to him. But inevitably, she ends up changing Willoughby's mind about his uncle, and the two of them become close. Mrs. Steinmetz (whom Nicole affectionally calls "Grandma") spends much of the movie trying to matchmake Willoughby and Nicole, and of course in the end she succeeds. Oh, and Mrs. Steinmetz also meets a man named Mr. Judson, who becomes a love interest of her own.

I should also mention that there are a couple other machines that, like Herbie, are sentient. One of them is a musical device that Wikipedia informs me is called an orchestrion, and while it's not very important to the plot, it does display a lot of personality. The other is a retired cable car named Old No. 22, but that doesn't display much personality at all. And toward the end of the movie, it turns out that a lot of VW Beetles are also sentient, which is one thing I guess I kind of disliked about the film. I can't imagine any of them ever gave their owners any indication of their sentience, like Herbie does, which I find strange. And I prefer to think of Herbie as special. I do want to be clear that I didn't dislike everything about the movie; some parts of it were mildly entertaining, which is why I rate it "meh and a half" instead of just "meh". And I don't know what else to say.

The Love Bug * Herbie Rides Again * Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo * Herbie Goes Bananas * Herbie: Fully Loaded

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