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SPEED RACER (director/writer: Andy Wachowski/Larry Wachowski; cinematographer: David Tattersall; editor: Roger Barton/Zach Staenberg; music: Michael Giacchino; cast: Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer), Nicholas Elai (Young Speed), Christina Ricci (Trixie), John Goodman (Pops Racer), Susan Sarandon (Mom Racer), Paulie Litt (Spritle Racer), Scott Porter (Rex Racer), Roger Allam (Royalton), Rain (Taejo Togokhan), Matthew Fox (Racer X), Benno Furman (Inspector Detector), Kick Gurry (Sparky), Christian Oliver (Snake Oiler), Ralph Herforth (Cannonball Taylor), Yu Nan (Horuko); Runtime: 135; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Andy Wachowski/Larry Wachowski/Joel Silver/Grant Hill; The Matrix; 2008)
“All its supposed innovative techie efforts did for me was make me dizzy and long instead for a good story.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A goofy video game film for the kiddies with big enough attention spans to handle the film’s lengthy 135 minutes and all the fatuous grown-up chatter. It’s derived from the 1960’s popular Japanese cartoon television series that was inspired by Japanese manga.It’s written and directed by the Wachowski Brothers (“The Matrix”/”V for Vendetta”) as nothing more than a cotton candy sensationalist flick for young gamers and fanboys, which leaves me and I assume most mature adults out of the equation. The film is built around relentless frenzied racing car action of the kind that is impossible to take place in the real world, and the actors are fitted into this cartoon world through CGI and a bevy of images move across the screen imitating a comic strip. It causes the ill-advised sensation of the viewer seemingly thinking he or she is stuck inside a 3-D video game. All its supposed innovative techie efforts did for me was make me dizzy and long instead for a good story. The experimental 100 million dollar film is a visual spectacle in absurdity and its silly family value drama inanely points out that a family that races together, does kung-fu together and eats jelly sandwiches together can overcome an evil corporate world.

When Rex Racer (Scott Porter) seemingly dies in a wreck in a crooked race at the Casa Cristo 5000 rally, supposedly at the blood-stained hands of greedy and ruthless corporate sponsors whom he refused to drive for, his younger adolescent brother Speed Racer (Nicholas Elai as an adolescent, Emile Hirsch as a young adult) grows up mighty fast to be a Grand Prix driver and is obsessed to avenge his dead brother’s tarnished legacy as a dirty driver, keep his good-natured auto-inventor father Pops Racer’s (John Goodman) Mach 5 racing and clean up the dirty sport of racing that’s run by the likes of oily, corrupt corporate magnate E.P. Arnold Royalton (Roger Allam)–someone whose drivers are the big stars in the rigged WRL racing circuit. When Speed refuses to join Royalton’s racing team, he becomes a marked man. Speed takes comfort in the support of his warm-hearted mom (Susan Sarandon) and his good-willed pop, his beanie-headed bratty baby brother Spritle (Paulie Litt) and his chimpanzee pet named Chim-Chim, his loyal engineer Sparky (Kick Gurry) and in his gritty girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci). Help also comes by way of a mystery racer named Racer X (Matthew Fox), who looks suspiciously like brother Rex.

The predictable and dramatically flat film lacks tension, as the WHAM! BAM! POW! comic book thriller leads to the big showdown race at the Grand Prix between Speed and all the other racers the corporation has on its payroll to snuff him. I bet if you try really hard you can guess who wins the big race and who Racer X is. This disheartening film has the live actors futilely try but are never able to bring to life their one-dimensional childish cartoonish characters. All it has to show for its money spent are an overkill of outrageously tedious choreographed animated car crashes and a gaudy candy color scheme (like an M&M bag) for its background shots that’s hard on the eyes.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”