Normally, I try to stay away from reviewing movies that don’t feature awesome subtitles or Rock ‘n’ Roll Blood Brothers, but I saw Speed Racer last night, and seriously, you guys? If you like the ISB, you need to see this movie.
I’ve been excited about it since the first trailer hit with its promise of what my pal Chad referred to as life-size Hot Wheels tracks and mid-air car battles, but when you get right down to it, there is absolutely no reason for it to be good. I mean, it’s Speed Racer: The Movie for cryin’ out loud, and despite the fact that we’ve all got a lot of fond childhood memories–and the occasional six-issue Tommy Yune mini-series–the source material works a lot better as a source for parody than as actual entertainment.
And yet, it’s great.
Apparently, it hasn’t been getting very good reviews, which I guess can only be chalked up to one of three possibilities: Either the reviewers were turned off by the visual style (which is as close as I’ve seen to being a live-action cartoon, and admittedly that’s not for everyone), they didn’t realize it was going to be so much of a kid’s movie, or they actively hate joy.
Trust me: It is awesome. And how awesome? Well, I don’t want to spoil anything, because I get the feeling that half of the fun is coming to everything fresh, but for those of you who need additional convincing, I’m going to steal a gimmick from Mike Sterling and create an area to do just that. Spoilers start beneath Speed at the starting line, and those of you who want to keep a clean slate can join us after Racer X hits the Roaring Elbow.
Okay, first things first: This is a movie where John Goodman wrestles a Ninja, thus bringing its JGAKQ to a respectable 7.5, right above O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but still well below The Big Lebowski.
The best thing, though, actually happens during one of the races, in which every single car can jump and in which everyone drifts all the time. So there’s this one part where these guys have hired a team of racecar vikings–yes, RACECAR VIKINGS–to kill Speed and Racer X, which one of them tries to do by spinning his car through the air while swinging a giant metal hammer from the bottom, to which Racer X responds by flipping his own car through the air while the Viking is upside down and punching him in the face.
Mid-air vigilante vs. viking car combat. And that’s not even taking the snakeapult into account.
Also, the Modded-up Christina Ricci of Speed Racer is totally hot and she should definitely have a marriage with me toute suite. But everybody already knew that.
So yeah, it’s a lot of fun, but to go ahead and make the inevitable summer movie comparison, I will say that I liked Iron Man a little more. To be fair, though, they’re completely different movies, and while I don’t think Speed Racer has the edge on anything but sheer visual moxie, it’s the one that I’d rather see again. Or to put it another way…
Movie: Speed Racer
Ranking: Four out of a possible Five Sonny Hoopers.