Movie review: Speed Racer
OK, I admit it. After watching Speed Racer I had the teeniest urge to paint the PT Cruiser glossy white with a big red M on the hood. Right after the autojacks get installed so I can jump over traffic.
Speed Racer is the kind of movie that takes place in the mind of a kid with tons of imagination, a box full of toy cars and a basement full of Hot Wheels track. Physics, realism and fuel economy be damned, it's about fun. And Speed Racer is fun, especially if you were one of those kids.
Now that's not to say Speed Racer is a great movie, or even a very good one. My enjoyment is partially fueled by nostalgia as I watched the cartoon back in the early 70s. But it was like reliving all of the cool memories of a childhood guilty pleasure without being confronted by the lameness that becomes evident in our modern and grown up world.
The Wachowski Brothers didn't bother trying to transplant Speed Racer into the real world. The movie exists in its own psuedo-70s quasi-anime universe, where gladiatorial car-fu bouts take place on elevated steel tracks that look engineered for a Mattel commercial. Unlike in the cartoons, the body count is kept low through a bubble-creating "QuickSave" system, letting cars wreck spectacularly without racking up a death toll.
There were plenty of little touches for those of us who remember the cartoons, from bits of the original music being woven into the soundtrack to the sound effect of the autojacks. The cast also did a surprisingly good job of bringing the characters to life. I think John Goodman has found his niche and Christina Ricci already looks like a manga character.
But as I said, it wasn't fantastic. Too much Spritle and Chim Chim. In my opinion, the whole "Freebird" sequence could have been edited out. You'll see what I mean when you see the movie.
Yes, go ahead and see it. No one will hear you making the autojack sound effect when you're in your car waiting in traffic.
Rating 3 of 5 car-fu racing flying monkeys.