Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno
|Featuring:||Emile Hirsch (‘Alpha Dog’), Christina Ricci (‘Black Snake Moan’), Matthew Fox (TV's ‘Lost’), Susan Sarandon (‘Dead Man Walking’), Joon Park, John Goodman (‘Evan Almighty’), Scott Porter, Christian Oliver, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rain (Ji Hoon Jung), Benno Fürmann, Richard Roundtree, Paulie Litt (TV's ‘Hope and Faith’), Cosma Shiva Hagen, Karl Yune, Yu Nan, Melvil Poupaud, Kick Gurry (‘Spartan’), Nayo Wallace, Nicholas Elia, Roger Allam (‘The Queen,’ ‘V For Vendetta’), Peter Fernandez, Werner Daehn|
|Director:||The Wachowski Brothers|
|Producer:||Joel Silver, Grant Hill, Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski, David Lane Seltzer, Michael Lambert, Bruce Berman|
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“From the creators of ‘The Matrix’ trilogy comes a world built for speed.”
Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) is a young man who has always known he was destined to be a race car driver. Since the time he was little, all he has ever thought or cared about was racing. When this movie opens, a young Speed played by Nicholas Elia cannot concentrate at school, and even when he is taking a test, he is daydreaming about racing. When Mom Racer (Susan Sarandon) is called in for a meeting with Speed’s teacher, she seems to really understand that her son has a path already carved out for him that he is destined to follow. He has lived, breathed and dreamed of racing, since the time he was a baby. Speed’s hero is his older brother Rex (Scott Porter) who left the family racing team years ago and was killed in a racing accident. Speed’s life-long friend Trixie is played by Christina Ricci.
Speed is approached by a big corporation, Royalton, wanting to sponsor him, and they try luring him with the latest and greatest racing equipment and training facility that money can buy. Even Pop Racer played by John Goodman is impressed with the offer that Royalton has presented to Speed. However, when Speed rejects Royalton’s offer, things get ugly. Speed learns quickly that evil corporations rule the world, and this includes fixing races, since the time Speed was a child. When Racer X (Matthew Fox) and Inspector Detector (Benno Furmann) approach Speed about working with them to uncover corruption within the racing world, Speed does the right thing and joins forces with them to rid the world of evil. Of course, Speed Racer would not be able to accomplish all he does if his younger brother, Spritle (Paulie Litt) and sidekick monkey Chim-Chim did not stow away and pop up at opportune times.
While this movie is probably best enjoyed by boys and men 8 and up, it was entertaining for my whole family. If you have never watched a Speed Racer episode, you probably won’t get some of what transpires. “Speed Racer” is a Japanese anime from the late 60’s. This movie tries to capture some of the original cartoon feel. Much of this movie was shot in front of a green screen with CG animation built around it.
While much of the “violence” of this film is computer animated, there is an overabundance of that violence. Cars explode constantl,y and people are always fighting. One would be forced to believe that the life of a race car driver is part racing and part ninja. When Speed is young, he gets into a fist fight over his brother Rex. People are shown being beaten. A man is shown with a bloody face and lip. A bloody piece of meat is shown being fed to piranhas. They try to force a man’s hand into the fish tank. Another man is forced to put his finger in a hole in the tank to stop it up, and you are led to believe the piranhas eat his finger to the bone as blood is floating to the top of the tank. There is heavy use of machine guns. Ninjas sneak into the racers’ rooms to try to kill them. Two major fight scenes involve the whole Racer family against the bad guys.
This movie has a PG rating, and they really pushed that rating. The language was much more than I have come to expect from a PG movie. There is repeated use of a-s-s. Subtitles on a cartoon read, “I will eat your soul” and other such phrases. Use of hell, damn, Holy sh--, Oh my G-d, and Jesus’ name taken in vain.
Other Objectionable Content: Many women are shown in low cut dresses. Spritle flips a man off. (While this is shown briefly, and even my own family can’t agree whether it happened or not, even if it didn’t happen, the implication was still there). Several women are shown scantily clad from the back. Speed goes to Inspiration Point with Trixie, but Spritle pops up before they can actually kiss. At the end of the movie, Speed kisses Trixie.
Speed wants to compete in the race that Rex was killed in. He knows his parents will never allow it, so he lies to them. Trixie helps him in this endeavor by agreeing to say that they are going on a ski trip.
On a spiritual level, there is talk of racing being a religion. Speed says the Racer team is like a religion, with the major sponsors being the Devil. Another man says, “This is my religion,” when talking of money and power.
The devotion and love the Racer family has for one another is rarely seen today in movies. Mom Racer is proud of Speed, and she openly shows it. Pop’s only regret in life is that he allowed Rex to leave the house believing he couldn’t ever come back. He is not going to make that same mistake with Speed. Pop, also, says he married his best friend.
While there are many things you could discuss with your family after this film, probably the best discussion would be “What is religion?” Obviously, religion is man’s attempt to reach God. Some men think they become like God through money or power. For others it is through something they really believe in, like racing or family. But none of us can reach God. God reached down and met us through His son, Jesus Christ.
Have you ever watched a movie and couldn’t decide if you really liked it or really hated it? “Speed Racer” was that movie for me. While there were parts that were funny and entertaining, much of the movie was so over the top bizarre that I sat there and wondered what I was watching. The original “Speed Racer” cartoon was Japanese with English dubbing. Obviously, their mouth movements did not match up with the words. This was part of the “fun” of watching the cartoon. While watching this, I got a sense that they were trying to create the cartoon with real people and maybe they should have stuck with just making a cartoon.
Would I recommend this movie? Most the time, I leave a movie and have an immediate answer to that question. I walked out of the movie theater and pondered it. I decided to sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning. Now, 12 hours after viewing the movie, I am no closer to a definite answer then I was last night. However, you come to the site for an answer, and I must give you one. I review a movie based on my impressions, and I avoid hearing what other reviewers thought or felt, until after I am done writing my review. With that said, I feel many children will be frightened by the very real violence; even my 2 older sons, 18 and 20 who eagerly anticipated this movie, thought the violence was too much for a PG movie. I would recommend this movie for boys or girls over the age of 8 who think that “Speed Racer” is awesome.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.