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Speed Racer (2008)
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Review Date: August 15, 2008
Director: The Wachowski Brothers
Writer: The Wachowski Brothers
Producers: Joel Silver, The Wachowski Brothers, Grant Hill
Actors:
Emile Hirsh as Speed Racer
Christina Ricci as Trixie
John Goodman as Pops Racer
Plot:
A boy named Speed Racer (no pressure by the parents, eh?) is placed in a position to win the World Racing League championship after his older brother dies in a car crash, leaving him to pilot his father’s slick Mach 5 automobile. A rich corporate douchebag tries everything in his power to squash the boy’s dreams, but with his loving family and the adorable Christina Ricci by his side, it certainly won’t be an easy task. Lots of Technicolor dreams ensue…
Critique:
A flashy, colorful film that packs a ton o’ fun into its fast-paced frame, but only after you fully accept the CGI background and environment that it’s drenched in. The film lasts a little longer than it should, but that said, I don’t remember ever really being too bored during its runtime, although I have to admit that by the time the final race came around, I was a little sick of watching cars going round and round, and up and down, and over and out. That might also have something to do with the fact that I’m not really a massive racing fan to begin with, so after a while, that stuff didn’t really reel me in anymore, but credit to the filmmakers for continually coming up with new and original race-tracks and automobile techniques, such that even as a non-fan of car racing, things always seemed pretty damn creative and inspired. Not to mention the awesome scene transitions, or “scenes within scenes” (you’ll see what I mean when you watch the movie – some scenes have layers on the screen). Visuals aside, what surprised me the most about this motion picture was the fact that it managed to convey legitimate messages despite its superficial-looking facade. Of course, the movie is best targeted toward boys between the ages of 5-and-15, or folks looking to “trip out”, but if you’re a parent and considering showing this to your child, I would definitely recommend it, as it does a solid job of stressing the importance of family in one’s life, the greedy nature of big business and most of all, the fact that every single person can make a difference in the world.

Even though the rest of the film’s storyline didn’t really have much depth to it, the characters interacted well with one another, and I especially liked the speech that John Goodman’s character gave to his son near the end of the movie – even though this is a “cartoon movie”, his words and sentiment really came through. Kudos! Roger Allam plays the same asshole he played in V FOR VENDETTA here, but he does it with such gusto that I couldn’t help but enjoy the man’s eeeeeevilness as well. Of course, the film is far from perfect with a smaller brother and monkey (yeah, a monkey) feeling a little too childish and out of place for my taste, some of the CGI races zipping by a little too fast and feeling like a videogame and the film ultimately running way past its bedtime (an hour and a half would have sufficed, not 2 hours+). But I can’t review the film without mentioning the directing, which was also extremely inventive and cartoonish, and always moving, moving, moving…perfect for such an adaptation! I also enjoyed the sweet eye-candy in the way of Christina Ricci and the hot Asian chick (although Susan Sarandon was kinda wasted), and who knew that Matthew Fox could actually impress me in a film (he does here!).

I’m still not exactly sure why this film tanked so badly at the box-office, but I think it had a lot more to do with how it was marketed (and to whom exactly) then its actual quality, since it does deliver plenty in terms of happy visuals, entertainment and family values, and oh yeah…action-packed sequences. And did I mention that there’s a ninja fight in the movie as well?! I’m telling you…don’t believe the hype and if you thought the trailers looked somewhat interesting, check it out and decide for yourself. Me…I’m gonna go smoke a bowl and watch this shit again. Oh yes I am…
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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