At least some reviewers of Walt Disney Pictures' "Herbie: Fully Loaded" found themselves caught in a modern-day conundrum: Should they review the movie about a fledgling ESPN journalist turned Nascar driver who says she's willing to kill for Tropicana orange juice and seldom leaves home without her Goodyear cap? Or just skip the film and go straight to its ubiquitous promotions?
This is a product-placement movie gone wild," Richard Roeper said on WBBM-TV, the CBS affiliate in Chicago. "There's a commercial contained within nearly every frame." "Fully loaded with what?" Ty Burr of The Boston Globe said, adding, "Product placement, as far as I can tell."
The fifth incarnation of Disney's 1963 film "The Love Bug" - which features 19-year-old Lindsay Lohan as the driver of an aging Volkswagen Beetle (and enjoyed favorable notice from some reviewers) - has taken in about $37 million at the domestic box office since it opened last month. But the film may ultimately be remembered less for its star or its box-office performance than for the boldness of its promotions.
Within three minutes of her on-screen introduction in "Herbie," for instance, Ms. Lohan's character, Maggie Peyton, is congratulated in two separate scenes by different characters for landing what promises to be a "great" and "cool" job as an assistant producer at ESPN - a cable sports network that happens to be owned by the studio's parent, the Walt Disney Company.
The only time Ms. Lohan/Peyton touches food or drink is when she pulls a prominently displayed bottle of Tropicana orange juice from a kitchen refrigerator. In a scene 20 minutes later, Maggie enters the kitchen growling at another character, "If you touched that orange juice, I'll kill you." Tropicana, a division of PepsiCo, is the official soft drink of the Nascar racing team headed by Jeff Gordon, who plays himself in the film.