Not Even Bananas
12 years after we had the fun of "The Love Bug" we got the final sequel in the original series of Herbie movies with "Herbie Goes Bananas" although there was the 1997 TV movie and then the Lindsay Lohan lead "Herbie Fully Loaded" in 2005. Unfortunately "Herbie Goes Bananas" is really quite a poor movie, maybe mildly entertaining for children but lacking so much of what made the Herbie movies so special. What it lacks seriously out weighs what it has and whilst there are plenty of visual gags most of those fail to gain the laughs intended.
Having headed to Puerto Vallarta, Pete (Stephen W. Burns) and his mechanic D.J. (Charles Martin Smith - The Untouchables) are excited as Pete's uncle has left them the car he won so many races with. But they are both disappointed when they discover the car is an old VW Beetle totally unaware that this little car is Herbie and it has a mind of its own. But whilst there Herbie helps a little pick pocket called Paco (Joaquin Garay III) to escape after he has two men Prindle (John Vernon - Animal House) and Shepard (Richard Jaeckel) are after him as he stole Shepard's wallet. Thanks to Herbie Pete and D.J. find themselves in plenty of sticky situations as well as romance as they head to Brazil to race in the GP.
To put it simply the problem with "Herbie Goes Bananas" is that Herbie ends up not even a supporting character with the focus more on the comical situations that Pete and D.J. end up in as well as the various other characters. It makes it an incredibly dull movie because Herbie should have been the star rather than a bit part and by relegating the VW Beetle means we get a lot less of the stunts which were a big part of what made the movies work. Oh there are still some such as Herbie in the bull fight scene but you get a real sense that the budget for this fourth Herbie movie was limited and so they couldn't give us what audiences expected from a Herbie movie.
As such that does mean that the focus is more than ever on the characters but unfortunately they are a pretty uninteresting bunch despite there being some recognizable stars playing them. The likes of John Vernon and Richard Jaeckel are severely let down by poorly written characters and sadly Stephen W. Burns as Pete is instantly forgettable. About the only actor who manages to achieve anything is Charles Martin Smith as the quirky D.J. but he is no Buddy Hackett.
As for the actual storyline well there isn't a great deal as much of the movie is about the sticky situations which Pete and D.J. and the other characters find themselves in thanks to Herbie. There is of course the obligatory romantic element but that is as dull as the whole storyline about Inca gold which is why we have Prindle and Shepard chasing Paco in the first place.
What this all boils down to is that "Herbie Goes Bananas" is a poor movie which might just have entertained a young audience back in 1980 but lacked so much which made audiences fall in love with Herbie over a decade earlier.