Film Reviews

SPEED RACER

By • May 9th, 2008 •

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An ugly cartoon.

I understand SPEED RACER is for children. I understand the concept of pushing the animation and live action genre to blur what is real and what is fantasy. All this is fine. The reality in SPEED RACER is hyper-reality unencumbered by the laws of physics. Okay, this I understand and find no fault with it. So it’s not the fake reality that ruins SPEED RACER, it is when we are forced to accept the Wachowski’s skewered human reality.

The Wachowski Brothers wanted to make a family film, but was their true intent to make a movie no one would see?

This intent obviously started with the casting. Considerable effort was intended to make sure the cast was made ugly. The Wachowski Brothers wrote the ultra-candy-colored movie about the famous Racer family: Fat Pops (John Goodman) is obscenely photographed in extreme close-up (Goodman has the most close-ups he’s ever had in his long career thus far); Mom (Susan Sarandon) is spared the cruel camera choices – she must have had her agent go over her contract; idealized eldest son Rex (Scott Porter) died in a racing crash so he’s kept his good looks in the flashbacks; younger brother Speed (Emile Hirsch) keeps the bland level on high, and little brother Spritle (Paulie Litt) is a fat, intrusive annoyance. He has a constant companion, a chimp named Chim Chim. At least Mom likes Chim Chim.

The Racer family blames the evildoer Royalton (Roger Allam) for Rex’s death since he arranges dangerous speed races. He wants Speed to drive for him but Speed, knowing Rex died in a dangerous race, says no.

Forced due to circumstances taking place in this alternative reality, Speed defies his father, ignores his mother, and joins forces with a masked man, Racer X (Matthew Fox) to enter the around the world race and destroy Royalton. Racer X has a big X on his skin- tight jumpsuit – but no automotive stickers. Speed’s girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci) has no parents but Pops and Mom and secretly can drive like a she-demon.

The key to who Racer X is may be a nod to rumors about Larry Wachowski changing his identity. More psychologically troubling is why Racer X hates his mother. You’ll have to sit through the movie yourself for these two sentences to make sense. I don’t want to spoil your fun with revealing the plot twists.

You know those matchbox cars you had? The races look like those cars were used for the driving sequences. See SPEED RACER and wonder what the Wachowski Brothers really intended. If the $200 million budget is true, then I’ll say that the brothers wanted to punish Hollywood the best way they know – by losing everybody else’s money.

The Wachowski Brothers’ reputation? SPEED RACER will not stop them. Just look at M. Night Shyamalan. He wrote and directed THE SIXTH SENSE in 1999. Critical and commercial failures haven’t stopped him from making movies. Failures embolden him!

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