Reigning tabloid teen queen Lindsay Lohan's latest fast-moving romance, at least onscreen, is with a rambunctious 42-year-old. Not that anyone need worry. The object of her affection? A battered 1963 Volkswagen Beetle with an expressive fender and set of headlights. "What are you trying to do to me, you crazy little car?" she mutters early on, though viewers know these two are meant for each other.
Herbie: Fully Loaded is a middle-of-the-road contemporary refurbishing of the 1968 kiddie comedy The Love Bug. Same auto, new owner. Lohan plays Maggie, a recent college grad whose dad (Keaton) buys the battered Bug for $75 at a junkyard. Soon, the car is revving its engine and Maggie, who comes from a family of racecar drivers, is matching wheels with a preening NASCAR champ (Matt Dillon, having fun).
The surprise to Loaded is, despite a high octane soundtrack and mentions of ESPN, how old-fashioned it feels. It's the story of a plucky girl and her car, period. Lohan is coasting here, though in fairness the role doesn't require Sarah Bernhardt's skills. Kids will like the film ("She's going to win, I know she is," my 5-year-old companion assured me before the big race), and adults will enjoy their offspring enjoying it. (G)