Speed Racer – A Movie Review

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.

Cars – A Movie Review

I have to admit that when I saw the trailer for this film, I had absolutely no confidence in it whatsoever.  I simply didn’t think they could possibly come up with a compelling storyline based upon a world inhabited solely by living cars.

However, being the animation junkie I am, I still had to give it shot once it hit on DVD.  I’m happy to report that I could not have been more wrong.

I loved this film!  The animation was top-notch, though I never had any doubt as to that.  Even better, though, was the fact that it actually had a very engaging and heartwarming story!  Being the severely masculine tough guy that I am, I have no qualms revealing that the ending of the film actually brought the slightest amount of moisture to one of my eyes.  Thankfully, I have far too much machismo for that moisture to have evolved into a full-fledged tear.

I don’t have any children of my own, but I have to imagine that I would feel totally confident showing this to my kids.  I can’t think of a better movie for a youngster to learn from.  It’s been too long since I saw an entertaining film that reminded me how wonderful it is when people put others first.

Goodbye, Old Friend – Pictures

I wanted to post a few pictures to supplement my original post, Goodbye, Old Friend.

This is the day I bought the car back in 2000.  I bought it from  Gentry Motor Company in Macomb, IL.

Me, sitting with my car for the last time.

The interior.  Not too bad after ten years of heavy use.

Goodbye, old friend.

Goodbye, Old Friend

Tomorrow I say goodbye to a steadfast friend who has been with me for almost eight years to the day-my car.

I know this will seem silly to some.  Heck, even I’m surprised at how emotional I’ve become at the prospect of losing my 1998 cherry red Ford Mustang. 

There’s nothing particularly special about it in terms of mechanics.  It’s an automatic, stock vehicle.  No frills, no enhancements.  But that car was my first major purchase as an adult.  I bought it soon after I graduated from college and made monthly payments on it for the following five years.  In the early days of my teaching career, I struggled to make ends meet, but I never missed a payment.  And when I sent in that last check and knew the car was mine completely, I can’t tell you the feeling of satisfaction I experienced. 

I bought my Mustang weeks before I moved out to North Carolina for my first teaching job.  I never thought about it much before today, but I liken it to a young man riding out into the unknown on his horse way back in the old West.  Just the two of them against whatever the future threw their direction.

In North Carolina that car was with me as I made new friends, and it was with me when I said goodbye to them and moved back to Illinois.  It went through several joys down South with me and even some heartache as well.  I can remember some lonely drives late at night along the interstate listening to Pete Yorn and the hum of its engine with the glow of its dash. 

After living with the Tar Heels for two years, I started my new job at Bloomington High School, and it was right there by my side ready to take on all comers.  We got off to a rough start, but we managed.  I smile to think back to when a coworker set me up with one of her friends and the Mustang was one of her main selling points.  I later went to pick that girl up on our first date, and the Mustang was right there with me.  A few years later it drove that same girl and me to the Church to get married.

Ironically, a few weeks ago the Mustang and I drove out of Bloomington High School’s parking lot for what could be at least a year’s absence.

I chuckle remembering when we couldn’t fit our soon-to-be-born daughter’s stroller into my wife’s car, the Mustang opened wide and in it went. 

So why am I giving up my stalwart friend?  As you’ve probably deduced, we have a little girl on the way.  And as wonderful as my car has been in the past, I’m not going to pretend it’s a car for a new father.  There’s a good chance I’m going to be a stay at home daddy for the coming year, and the Mustang does my wife’s once-broken tailbone no favors.  Therefore we’ll need a ride more car seat friendly.

Don’t get me wrong-while I’m more upset than I could have imagined about giving up my car, it’s totally worth it.  My daughter is the most important thing to me, and will be for the rest of my life, and when all is said and done, the Mustang is only a car.

When I tell myself that the Mustang has been with me through thick and thin, has never broken down, and even has a piece of me in it, I think of my daughter, who will also be with me through thick and thin, and who literally has my heart and soul in her blood.  When I think of her, the emotion of giving up my car turns to joy at the arrival of my baby girl.

The Mustang has been with me for my entire adult life.  Every major event from my adult life involves that car in some facet or another.  But my little girl will be with me for the rest of my days, and she, Kristen, and I will make countless new, happy memories together.

So, as silly as all this is, think of me tomorrow as I watch my car leave my driveway for the last time, but smile for me at the thought of daddy’s little girl pulling into that very same driveway in just a few short weeks.

… Goodbye, old friend.