Speed Racer

Year: 2008
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: The Wachowski brothers
Producer: Joel Silver
Writer: The Wachowski brothers
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Kick Gurry

The Wachowski brothers made two mistakes with this film, widely seen to be a disaster and even now barely having scraped back three quarters of its budget.

The first was that in a era of Transformers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Incredible Hulk, Quantum of Solace and any number of larger than life ideas, trying to get audiences interested in a mere car race was never going to be easy no matter how many scenes of jittery CGI they threw at it (many of which grew tedious before too long anyway).

The second was evident in every scene with the kid and the monkey, scenes that might have ten year olds laughing but will cause groans and rolling of eyes among everyone else. The fact is that despite none of the marketing really hinting as much, it was a kids' movie, constrained by all the asinine PG trappings that go with the genre.

Based (very loosely, I imagine) on the Japanese comic strip from the late 1950s, it depicts a sort of day-glo coloured parallel universe where a family of car racing obsessives pursue their small town-style American dreams.

I'm also doubtful the original story had much of the theme of corporate corruption turning mass-market sport into a tightly controlled business venture. But when Speed (Hirsch in his only career misstep thus far) is approached by a seemingly benevolent corporate overlord to enter the company fold as a team racer, he raises the sniveling CEOs ire by refusing.

Thus ensues an only slightly interesting story of the little guy standing up to an evil power when the villain arrays a formidable offense of crooked drivers against him in vengeance.

Then there are the races, kaleidoscopes of colour, sound and movement so over the top it's like mainlining acid. They're the icing on an ADD-afflicted cake that's no substance and way too much style.

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