The BLOGFlume—Fully Loaded
Herbie hits theaters again, Busch hits Orlando again, and a "common" solution to inspection problems
Written by Russell Meyer
It seems that after five movies and a big fat paycheck from Disney, Lindsay Lohan thinks she’s all that. Well, at least to thousands of teenage boys and a few older men who are amazed by the magic of hormones, or plastic surgery, depending on who you believe. At the Hollywood premiere of Herbie Fully Loaded, a song that she recorded was moved from the climactic race scene to the ending credits, and as we all know, no one stays for the credits. Lohan felt slighted, and maybe she was, or perhaps she was just disturbed by the barely loaded movie that she was associated with.
I had an opportunity to check out Disney’s newest movie on Monday, and have to say that I wasn’t terribly impressed. I felt that Lohan’s last collaboration with Disney, Freaky Friday, was a pretty decent remake. However, Herbie pulls into theaters in need of a serious tune up, as it is full of slapstick-style jokes, most featuring the embarrassing Matt Dillon, and campy B-list acting. At the core, the movie tries to rekindle the happy-go-lucky feel of the original Herbie movies, but instead comes across like a Diane Warren single with a little bit of catchiness, but a whole lot of suckitude. For those who didn’t know, Disney had test screened the movie, and found that a number of parents were concerned about the sexual appeal of Lohan in a number of scenes because of the outfits she was wearing. Subsequently, the movie was digitally enhanced to “reduce” the areas that parents found objectionable. The end result is a lead actress who has more bra sizes than Pamela Anderson in the span of 100 minutes. Then there’s Herbie. The loveable Volkswagen Beetle is turned into a prop instead of a character, as the most significant parts starring the bug involve him wooing a yellow and black bumble bee new VW Beetle. Part of the charm of the original Herbie movies was Herbie, and his personality. This sequel is all about Lindsay. There’s also the blatant product placement. After all, the movie ends with a NASCAR race, so viewers are subjected to more ads than an episode of Survivor. Volkswagen, Chevy, Dell, Bass Pro Shops, Nextel, etc… NASCAR fans will be used to the bombardment, but will laugh at the movies race scenes, which are almost as silly as Days of Thunder’s magical 5th gear trick.
The movie is currently sitting at 44% on rottentomatoes.com, but what do they, or even I know. The biggest question surrounding this movie is, “Who will watch?” The slapstick and nifty car tricks will amuse little kids, and there are bound to be droves of teenage boys who will flock to catch a glimpse of Lohan’s chest switch-a-roo. Beyond that, I’m not really sure who this movie is targeted at, and the Disney marketing machine has cooled off a little on this film. In a summer where Hollywood is starting to feel the wrath of audiences begging for original material, Herbie is released in the same weekend with another remake, Bewitched. I saw Bewitched tonight, and while I thought it was better than Herbie, and has more bankable star power (Nicole Kidman, Will Farrell, and Michael Caine), it still is not the movie that will bring the sparkle back to Tinseltown’s bank accounts. Herbie may make back its $50 million budget, but probably will not bring Disney the summer hit they’re looking for.
More Sea World
It looks like Busch is looking to increase its presence in Orlando. With two parks already, Sea World and Discovery Cove, a third appears to be in the works, according to plans filed with Orange County. Busch has confirmed that they are planning a 58-acre attraction that is expected to open in 2007, and most are speculating that it will be a water park. There are currently three major water parks in Orlando, Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, and Wet ‘n Wild. Actually, Wet ‘n Wild may have trouble staying in the fray since its current lease is set to change its terms in 2007. This may cause the Universal-owned I-Drive park to either close or move because of increased lease terms which will continue to rise through 2012. While it’s too early to tell, it is highly possible that the new Busch park may fill a void left by a departing Wet ‘n Wild. Early plans of the park show four major attractions, but do not describe them in any detail. It seems, however, that the local residents are less than big fans of Busch, and this new water park proposal has done nothing but stir an already boiling pot. Many neighbors have been upset with the noise that Kraken has brought to the area with its roaring trains whizzing by every 2 minutes from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM every day. The proposed site puts the water park right next to a major subdivision, and residents are none too pleased. However, it is possible that this new park may be a different type of theme park, or even a different concept for a water park that may please locals and tourists alike. It doesn’t appear that the residents can stop it, so look out, Orlando will be getting just what it needs, another theme park.
Commonwealth Does it Better
The recent death of a 4-year old boy on EPCOT’s Mission: Space has brought to the forefront some of the potential problems with theme parks. While the tragedy was most likely not the fault of Disney, people are beginning to find out that not all attractions are required to be thoroughly inspected. In Florida, for instance, theme parks are exempt from state inspections. While in-house inspectors inspect every attraction on a daily basis, there is no third party to make sure that the parks’ self-policing is effective. The only people Florida theme parks have to answer to are their guests, who are clamoring for bigger, faster, and more thrilling attractions; and their insurance companies, who can be quieted with higher premiums. The only things that keep the parks in check is the desire to eliminate negative press, competition, and the trust of their guests. However, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, things are done a little differently. All amusement rides in Virginia are required to go through an inspection, as evidenced by a prominently displayed sticker on the attraction. Also, Virginia can temporarily shut down any attraction that fails to pass inspection, is deemed “unsafe,” or is involved in an accident that results in a serious injury or fatality. The inspection program is implemented using local building inspectors, who may not have direct knowledge of ride systems, but know enough to tell when an attraction is not safe for the public. I’ve always been on the side of parks, and their ability to run their business the way they want. However in this case, where public safety is of the utmost importance, an inspection system like the one in Virginia, may be a viable solution to be implemented in other states around the country.
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