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Movie Review: Speed Racer
Tony D, Hardcore Film Maniac   |  

Speed RacerSpeed Racer
Directed by the Wachowski Brothers
Starring Emile Hirsch, John Goodman, Christina Ricci
Rated PG
Release date: May 9, 2008

Speed Racer is a great ride, but yet really uneven. For those that know me know that I will always disapprove of a film that changes genres in certain parts. For Speed Racer, it isn’t just changing genres. It changes direction. By the trailer, you can tell that Speed Racer will be a great ride. And yes, it is very colorful. It’s so trippy that it made some five-year-old kid have a seizure. No, I’m not shitting you. It is a very fun film, but it needs a lot of work. Through the entire time watching the film, four words stuck by me the entire time”¦

“Hot Wheels: World Race.”

Oh, and I remember that video game. I’m not the biggest car guy, but I LOVE car races. So much that I named 2 Fast 2 Furious the best film of Summer 2003. Hot Wheels are all about hot, flashy cars that little animated drivers like to flaunt around on the race track. These tracks are different compared to tracks like the Talladega and Indy 500. They consist of jumps, loops, and dangerous obstacles. I got to play Hot Wheels: World Race back when you could find it, and I loved it. To this day, as much as I love Tetris, Air Hockey, and Vice City, that game takes the cake as the best videogame ever.

But it isn’t for everyone. And neither is Speed Racer. Some will love it while everyone else will hate it. It is disjointed, and sometimes can only stand on one leg like a fucking shark attack. But what else is that it is for the people who grew up watching the animated show. Back then, the show was considered a children’s classic. Even today, the show is remembered. The Wachowski Brothers, well known for their Matrix trilogy, don’t rape your childhood, my childhood, and those little Japanese kids’ childhood.

Speed Racer tells the tale of the Racer family. Speed (Emile Hirsch) is following in his late brother’s (Scott Porter) footsteps as being one of the best racers to ever live, but he is an independent racer. Once a big-time agent (Roger Allam) asks Speed to sign with him, it gives him time to think about his future. But then, he realizes that racing is corrupt. With Racer X, (Matthew Fox), Speed, and his family (John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Paulie Litt, and a monkey), the family mechanic, (Kick Gurry), and Speed’s girlfriend (Christina Ricci), they plan to take down the corrupted politics of racing, even if it means to put their own lives in danger.

Speed Racer is a very silly film at times, but it’s supposed to be. It’s a film for families. Kids will like it for the humor. Adults will like it for the A-list stars. People who love art will have a damn orgasm over the film’s CGI. This may be considered the first live-action animated flick. It could have easily been a film that is in ode to that children’s show Lazy Town, but thank god and his Mexican brother Jamie Lee Curtis that it wasn’t.

But the biggest problem with Speed Racer is not that it is silly. Actually, the scenes that are really silly, starring Paulie Litt and the monkey, are some of the best parts in the film. I’m really talking about the scenes where it becomes too serious. Most kids won’t understand what “fixed” means, but I’m starting to believe that the Wachowskis think that kids will like the film for its amazing race scenes. For those adults who do know what the word “fixed” means, we find the plot to falter as it goes on. While it isn’t a problem if you are just watching it to get simple enjoyment and entertainment, it becomes a problem for people who wish to see more out of the film. By that, I mean if you are here just for the race scenes, then good, you shouldn’t have a problem. But if you actually give two shits about the storyline, you will be furious.

The races, though, are really good. Sometimes they go on for too long, but they are some amazing courses. It looks like something that would be designed on a Hot Wheels game. I was surprised to see how much I was really into them. All of them are really predictable, but it didn’t stop me from cheering Speed Racer on. They looked good and, while not realistic, it felt like you were really on a race course. Even that little stoppage in the one race for a real kickass (but very campy) fight scene had me cheering.

What can be said about the cast that hasn’t be said? Matthew Fox makes a comeback after his lackluster role in Vantage Point. John Goodman and Susan Sarandon are here either for money, the fame, or for their talent, but they do a decent job nonetheless as Speed’s parents. Christina Ricci is still one of the best actresses of her generation, and Speed Racer shows a totally different side of her. Emile Hirsch, who does a great job in almost everything that he is in, does a decent job here as well. I’m just really impressed by Paulie Litt. That kid can entertain the audience.

Speed Racer isn’t Iron Man. It never will be Iron Man It’s pretty damn unfair that I even compared Speed Racer TO Iron Man. But Speed Racer is still a great way to continue the summer. If this keeps up, I want this summer to go on forever.

***½ out of ****


  1. A very fair review. I was actually surprised by the storyline of the film. I expected it to be completely vapid and devoid of nuance, but I was surprised to see double-crosses, and even *gasp* some marginal character development. I thought the first race scene with the flashbacks, and the simultaneous races was masterfully written (and edited).

    I kept thinking F-Zero, but the sentiment is the same.

    I went expecting this movie to be awesomely bad, but in the end it was pretty much just awesome.

    Comment by Ahren — May 15, 2008 @ 2:26 am

  2. That the second half was pretty decent surprised me.
    Great and very fair review.

    Comment by Jerry — May 15, 2008 @ 7:49 am

  3. I was dissapointed by this one. I enjoyed the start of it and how it established the universe that all of the characters inhabited. But the last half of the movie bored me, and I kept checking my watch wondering how much time was left in this overlong movie. All the same, I enjoyed reading your review of it.

    Comment by Ben — May 15, 2008 @ 11:56 pm

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