When we headed to IMAX to see Speed Racer, I expected it to be a good birthday present - a little popcorn flick that would demand very little intellectual or emotional investment. I wasn't expecting it to be the best movie ever, nor was I expecting it to change my life. I was hoping for something in the "not completely terrible" category.
What I found, at the end of 2 hours and 15 minutes of hyperkinetic kaleidoscope visuals dancing before my eyes like a semi-animated rave, was a smile I couldn't wipe from my face and the distinct memory of saying, "Awesome," to myself about three dozen times. I liked the story. I really liked the dialogue. I loved the scrolling close-up scene transitions that mimicked the cut-and-paste animation effects of the cartoon with a souped up CGI twist. But what absolutely enthralled me was the way the fighting and racing scenes were choreographed with the same reckless disregard for reality employed by little kids everywhere.
If you've ever laid on your bed and daydreamed an action sequence featuring race cars that flip and jump at will, if you've ever directed a scene where a matchbox car in distress can scale your bedroom walls, or if you've ever pitted action figures in a brawl where gravity and probability are not present, then Speed Racer may look incredibly familiar.
If you've ever seen the cartoon, the familiarity will breed complete awesomeness. John Goodman is Pops Racer. And I don't mean he plays Pops Racer. He is Pops Racer. All the actors do a tremendous job acting as if they were drawn on screen. Matthew Fox's deadpan Racer X is a stroke of genius that most critics dismiss as stale. The critics are so wrong.
This movie really was awesome. It ticked me off to read the reviews, because the reviewers were all so helplessly out of touch. The ones who claimed they had seen the cartoon as kids obviously had not. The ones who didn't claim to have seen the movie should be cut in half by a Mach 5 buzz saw.
Happy birthday to me. Speed Racer rocked.
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