I should probably reveal this from the get-go: I never watched the old Speed Racer cartoon. I knew just the most minimal of facts-Speed’s name, Racer X, the little boy and the monkey-and that was about it.
That being said, even while knowing really nothing about the cartoon, I actually enjoyed the Wachowski Brothers’ Speed Racer.
Visually, it was mesmerizing. What the Wachowskis started with the awful CGI Smith Brawl in the Matrix Reloaded was perfected in Speed Racer, which is the blending of CGI and reality. This make-believe world of Speed Racer is bright, fast, and a surrealistic copulation of science fiction and real-life technology. The cars were fun, the costumes a blast, and the race tracks were something the most deranged of video-game developers couldn’t have created. I honestly believe I could have turned the volume off and been just as enthralled by this visual feast.
The story itself was nothing new. I have no idea how much was gleaned from the cartoon, but struggles against the evil, corporate megalomaniac is not exactly breaking new ground, nor is detailing a younger brother’s unresolved issues with his older brother. Even so, I wasn’t expecting much of a story from a movie based on an old cartoon and found myself surprisingly touched by some true moments full of soul and warmth. These sensitive scenes were courtesy of a very talented cast including Emile Hirsch, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Christina Ricci, and Matthew Fox.
I’ve heard some say this movie was too juvenile, too geared towards youngsters. Well, remembering the fact it’s-once again-based on a cartoon, there were moments of levity thanks to a very funny young actor named Paulie Litt and the monkey-character Chim Chim. However, there were also heavy themes in parts, some slight profanity, and lots of car crashes, gunfire, and fist fights. There were even some scantily-clad women that I’m not sure I’d want my little one watching. Consequently, Speed Racer is rated PG.
All in all-I thought this was an innovative movie that probably should have garnered more attention while it was in the theatres. If you’re into amazing special effects with a tolerable story and can keep in mind this is a movie based on a cartoon, I recommend Speed Racer with a clear conscience.