Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The notice for the screening for ‘Speed Racer’ showed up and oddly enough I had no interest in seeing the film even though I really did love Speed and them as a six-year old. I even remember some fifteen years later while parking cars me and my fellow car parker Leonard Spielman, who also loved Speed as a six-year old, as all six-year old boys did back in the day on what a live action Speed Race movie would be like. Of course we had theorized that time would have passed and Speed would be in his late thirties, married and subsequently divorced from Trixie by now. Spritle would be in and out of rehab due to his addiction to smelling car exhaust fumes considering all the time he spent hiding in the trunk of the Mach 5, compounded by the eventual death Chim-Chim. Leonard theorized that Spritle’s hiding in the trunk was a euphemism for the kid’s latent homosexuality but I respectfully disagreed. Pops would have finally had that heart attack, Mom would have remarried Inspector Detector which would completely destroy Sparky and of course Speed would still be oblivious to the fact that Racer X is his long lost brother Rex, no matter how many times the announcer dude repeats that fact. So I’m totally down with Speed and his world but the new live action movie did nothing to move me towards wanting to see it, even for free. Then the reviews started trickling in and they were awful which made me want to see it even less, but then my twelve year-old decided he wanted to see a movie with this one pretty much being the only age appropriate movie to see considering I’ve seen everything else already. Well you other critics be damned because I actually liked this movie as it was a fairly faithful albeit loud and busy live action rendition of the Speed I grew up loving as child.

Speed (Emile Hirsch) is the hottest racer on the planet and is in serious demand by all the big sponsors. Speed though likes to keep things close to home and run for his old man Pops (John Goodman) and his ace mechanic Sparky (Kick Gurry), especially

since the tragic death of Speeds older brother Rex (Scott Porter). The usual suspects are here with Mom (Susan Sarandon) cooking up the flapjacks, Trixie (Christina Ricci) forever the teasing minx, Chim-Chim the monkey whose origin nobody on the planet, including the Racer’s seems aware of and Spritle (Paulie Litt) still hiding in closets. As a note Spritle actually sounds like a little kid in this movie as opposed to the cartoon version where he sounded like Joan Rivers after 18-pack Kool’s binge.

After a visit by the super rich Mister Royalton (Roger Allam) who we already know is up to no good, he makes Speed a glorious offer for he and his family to join his team, which Speed respectfully declines, but this only serves to infuriate the evil Royalton who promises to destroy Speed and his family. Fortunately Speed his being looked after by CIB chief Inspector Detector (Benno Furman) and his right hand man Racer X (Matthew Fox) who no longer looks like Speeds long thought dead brother Rex but instead looks just like that cat on ‘Lost’. This pair convinces Speed to go against his father’s wishes and join them in a big Rally race, the same race that killed Rex so many years ago because somehow this is supposed to put the brakes on Royalton and his goons monopoly and fixing of the glorious sport. Though the race goes well, the outcome leaves Speed a bit disillusioned causing him to question his purpose in life, meaning he obviously hasn’t been looking at Trixie lately ‘cause girlfriend is like looking good. Some might call into question the ‘Speed Gear’ which consists of the lilac blue shirt, tight white pants and that damned red scarf, but we know you gotta be a real man to pull that outfit off. Regardless, if you race cars and your depressed what’s the quickest way to get undepressed? Why a car race silly and this is the biggest race of them all, the Grand Prix. Can Speed prevail when it’s just him, his skill, his car and the rest of field out to see that he never finishes the race? I’ll see you at the finish line sucka.

Directed by the Wachhowski brothers of ‘The Matrix’ fame, ‘Speed Racer’ roars into theaters with incredibly bright colors, fancy camera moves, constant music, plenty of CGI action and constant motion. Just the kind of movie that makes me physically ill while praying for the end credits to roll. But for whatever reason the constant stimulation and oversaturation that is ‘Speed Racer’ didn’t bother me. Perhaps because the Wachowski’s, working from their own script, kept the feel of the original anime based cartoon so close to this live action version that it stimulated some nostalgia within me. The Mach 5 looks exactly as it should have, the buttons on the steering wheel did what they were supposed to do, they even mimicked the hydraulic jumping twang of the Mach 5 to perfection. Perhaps because the movie had so much motion and movement that it completely masked the rather ridiculous storyline, but then the original ‘Speed Racer’ wasn’t exactly ‘Othello’ to begin with. Whatever the reasons I had quite the good time with this over-stylized computer generated glorified 100 million dollar tech demo. So much so that it’s gong into my personal collect the day it comes out of DVD.

So forget all you movie critics who spat on this film which is well on its way to being one of the greatest box office disappointments of all time. I imagine I am probably around the same age as the Wachowski brothers and allow me to tell those reclusive freaks that I appreciate what they tried to with ‘Speed Racer’. Too bad the series probably ends here, even before it gets started.

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