|The Love Bug (1997 film)|
|Television show information|
Country of origin
The Love Bug is a 1997 American made-for-television comedy adventure film and a sequel/remake of the 1968 film of the same name produced by Walt Disney Television which premiered on ABC as part of The Wonderful World of Disney on November 30, 1997. The remake starred Bruce Campbell and included a special appearance by Dean Jones, star of the original Love Bug, tying it to the previous films; and introduced an evil black Volkswagen named Horace, "the Hate Bug", giving the film a much darker tone than the other "Herbie" films.
The film is part remake and part sequel, in that the events of the original 1968 film are repeated while the storyline plots to follow 1980's Herbie Goes Bananas. It can also be thought a prototype of Herbie: Fully Loaded, in that both show a later racer finding Herbie in a junkyard and restoring him.
This 1997 version also marks the first new appearance of Herbie in 15 years, following the Bug's lone TV series Herbie, the Love Bug, which had ended after five episodes.
The narrator, Jim Douglas (Dean Jones), unfolds the story of Herbie the Volkswagen Beetle. Herbie was owned by an egotistic racing driver and car dealer named Simon Moore III (John Hannah). Due to his arrogance, he does not treat Herbie very well. During a race, Simon Moore III swears at Herbie, which caused Herbie to not want to listen to his owner. They end up in last place for the race. Simon was not pleased and he throws out Herbie to the junkyard.
Hank Cooper, a small-town mechanic who works in a local garage, enters a junk-car race where drivers select a jalopy and attempt to start and race it. Hank ends up getting "last choice" and is forced to choose the only car left, a broken-down Herbie. Assisted by his "spiritually enlightened" but goofy friend Roddy, Hank manages to get Herbie started just before he is towed off the track. In appreciation for his kindness to the little VW, Herbie manages to win the race, trouncing such junkers as a Cadillac limousine and an early-model Corvair Monza convertible. The judges of the race, Donny Shotz (Micky Dolenz), Alex (Alexandra Wentworth), who Hank used to date; and Simon, find it hard to believe that such a tiny car could run so fast, and Alex challenges Hank to prove that he didn't try any tricks during the race, to win. Hank takes Alex for a ride, showing Herbie's speed, and their relationship is re-kindled (with Herbie driving them to an isolated area and locking his doors, as he did with Jim Douglas and Carol Bennett in the first movie). Meanwhile, Roddy tells Hank that Herbie is special, and takes him to an automotive art show. At the show, Simon sees Herbie and attempts to discover why his car, which failed him, took Hank to victory. He discovers that Herbie was built by a Dr. Gustav Stumpfel (Harold Gould) shortly after World War II. He asked Dr. Gustav to create another car, but he wants the car to be pure evil and black. He ends up naming the second car, Horace the Hate Bug, using the "magical ingredients" of a picture of Simon, along with Herbie's key.
Simon orders Horace to find Herbie and destroy him, which Horace does, leaving Herbie a heap of crushed metal. Hank catches up with Herbie, but finds it's too late to save him, and Hank, Roddy, and Alex give Herbie a funeral. At the funeral, Herbie's former owner Jim Douglas arrives, and after examining Herbie's remains, informs them that he can be rebuilt, provided they use all of Herbie's original sheet metal. Hank gets Donny Shotz, an auto customizer, to re-shape and paint Herbie's sheet metal. Hank, Roddy, Alex, and Jim work to rebuild Herbie, and when finished, Hank gives the honor of trying to start him, to Jim. Herbie starts on the first try, and sounds his horn, letting them know that it's the same Herbie that they have come to know and love.
Meanwhile, Simon challenges Hank to a race between Horace and Herbie. Although Simon makes every attempt to sabotage the race, Herbie manages to win (cut in half by Horace's laser). Furious, Horace tries to destroy Herbie again by ramming him off a cliff, but ends up falling into the ravine himself. Simon and his partner Rupert are then arrested for illegally detonating explosives, driving an unregistered "devil car", and illegally dumping said car.
The movie ends with Hank and Alex, being in love again, drive off in the car with Herbie.
- Bruce Campbell as Hank Cooper
- John Hannah as Simon Moore III
- Alexandra Wentworth as Alex Davis
- Kevin J. O'Connor as Roddy Martel
- Dana Gould as Rupert
- Harold Gould as Dr. Gustav Stumpfel
- Micky Dolenz as Donny Shotz
- Dean Jones as Jim Douglas
- Clarence Williams III as Chuck
This 1997 incarnation of The Love Bug is the only film in the Herbie franchise not available on DVD. As of 2017, it is only available in VHS format throughout the United States and Canada. This movie has since been seen in recent years on cable networks; most notably, Hallmark Channel (which usually airs the 1968 original and 1997 film back-to-back) and Disney Channel.
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