When Pete Stanechek (Stephen W. Burns) inherits a car from his uncle, Jim Douglas, he has to go to Puerto Vallarta to pick it up, and this begins another whirlwind adventure for everyone’s favourite 1963 soft top Super Beetle, Herbie! 53 is now racing from Mexico to Rio by land and sea to become a contender in the Brasil Grand Primeo race, but he has to survive many obstacles first. He makes an instant friend with a orphan boy, Paco (Joaquin Garay III) with a talent for fast talk and thievery. Pete and his friend, D.J. (Charles Martin Smith) aren’t the only victims of Paco’s smooth moves. While trying to con some shady businessmen, Paco comes across three treasure seeking conmen, Prindle (John Vernon), Quinn (Alex Rocco), and Shepard (Richard Jaeckel) that are looking to take their own expedition to South America.
Soon, Pete and D.J. learn about Herbie’s history and talents from first-hand experience, and decide to take the little bug into the big race in Brazil. They board a cruise ship, and set sail to racing glory. On board, they meet with uptight graduate student, Melissa (Elyssa Davalos) and her fun-loving, rich aunt, Louise (Cloris Leachman). The racing team needs a sponsor, so while Pete romances Melissa, D.J. entices Aunt Louise into investing in Herbie’s future. This scam is short-lived, because once Herbie is able to cut loose on the Sun Princess, her captain, Captain Blythe (Harvey Korman), a modern-day Horatio Nelson, will tolerate no more of the car’s silliness nor that of Paco, whom Herbie brought onto the ship while helping him escape from the men in Puerto Vallarta.
Herbie Goes Bananas is fun romp through Central America for the little car and his friends, and this was really the weakest story of the bunch. It was more like watching an episode of The Love Boat with a separate plotline to tie the popular TV Show and movie franchise together. While Herbie is always a fun win on a gamble of any kind, this story could have gone much smoother with a better script. Still, it is cute and has its moments, and the special effects were pretty good for the early 80s. Not bad for using such an unusual location.
I give this film a Musing review of