He Said/She Said #07: Speed Racer
He Said/She Said is a bi-weekly column where a male and female reviewer from the site team up to debate the merits of a particular film.
Fanboys were excited when The Wachowski brothers announced they were going to be bringing the beloved Speed Racer cartoon to the silver screen. But when it came time for the unveiling of their film, few people seemed interested and the result was one of the biggest box office disappointments of all time. But I don’t care what the numbers say; this was a good, fun film.
The race scenes were amazing. Not just because they were visually stunning, creative and unique in design, but because they were intense. The Wachowskis immediately immerse you into this world and you feel like you’re racing with Speed Racer, feeling every turn and near-miss situation as it happens. Even if you don’t like the film, you have to acknowledge the spectacular races and vibrant colors that illuminate the screen.
As for the story…I’m not sure what anyone expected. It’s a story about a kid that races cars. We all know where the plot is going to go. I thought they did a good job of making it deeper than it had to be. I could have done without the annoying little brother, but if he and the monkey got more kids interested, I can live with it. Hirsch and Ricci did well with their characters and gave them depth without wasting a lot of screen time. We’re here for the races (and maybe the theme song) and The Wachowski’s knew that.
A futuristic film about racing in cool cars with great special effects has the potential to be a good, fun time, unfortunately, Speed Racer didn’t live up to what I had expected. Emile Hirsch is too good for this role and Christina Ricci is too talented to play such a forgettable character, so this was a bad pick for both of them especially since it wasn’t a huge box office success.
The race scenes weren’t great, the effects were over the top, and the disinterested cast and lackluster plot all contributed to a lame movie. Perhaps the biggest downfall of this movie was Speed’s little brother, Spritle (Paulie Litt). This kid was so obnoxious and annoying that it was tough getting past his character and concentrating on the rest of the film. The gorgeous, bright colors should have been enough for the kiddies so it wasn’t necessary to water down the dialogue and create a juvenile character that removed the audience from the events on screen.
Little brother aside, this film just didn’t pack the punch a summer blockbuster of this magnitude should have. They tried way too hard to make this film kid friendly and in the process, they ostracized the audience that would get the most out of it. After all, today’s adults are the ones that remember the cartoon and we would have appreciated a live-action film the most.