3 Stars - Wholesome
Just as they did with the Matrix films, the Wachowski brothers wrote and directed “Speed Racer.” Based on the television cartoon series by Totsuo Yoshido, they take the action and special effects to a whole new level while keeping the basic storyline in place. However, the frenetic pace and complex visual imaging of this film are not like the Matrix films. In a fantasy futuristic world where the colors are as vibrant as the racing machines, the laws of physics are suspended but the laws of morality are strongly in place. A tale of good against evil, with family and loyalty highly praised, “Speed Racer” is a film with a simple message within the cacophony of sights and sounds that combines live actors in a computer-generated world.
The Racers are a loving and faithful family who live to race. The second-born son is named Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch from “Into the Wild”). Speed has been born to drive race cars. Not only is his father Pops Racer (John Goodman) a car designer but his older brother Rex Racer (Scott Porter) is his racing idol and allows him to drive even as a child. Mom Racer (Susan Sarandon) affirms his skill and explains that when Speed drives he is like an artist creating a work of art. Rounding out the family and also adding some delightful visual comedy is the youngest brother Spritle (Paulie Litt) and his side-kick Chim-Chim (played by two very expressive chimpanzees Willy and Kenzie).
Just as in the earlier TV series this film version also has Racer X (Matthew Fox of “Lost”) and Speed’s childhood friend and burgeoning girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci). Both play an important part in Speed’s life.
The conflict within the film is a familiar one of big, greedy business against the small, honest entrepreneur. Fixing the races in order to manipulate the stock market, Mr. Royalton (Roger Allan) at first tries to tempt Speed with the promises of wealth and pleasure in his automotive empire. When Speed resists, he angrily attempts to destroy Speed’s love for the sport by revealing that the heroes he looked up to had all sold out for money and fame.
Though we won’t tell how this moral struggle ends, the journey is full of betrayal, courage, intrigue, secrecy, faithfulness, skill and love. It is told in the exaggerated style of a comic but it is true to life as it magnifies the choices we all have to make.
- If you were Speed and Royalton offered you wealth and fame, what would you say? What is of worth in your own life?
- When Trixie risks her life to help Speed, she exemplifies the loyalty that she gave to Speed even when they were children. Who in your life exemplifies such loyalty to you? To whom do you show this type of loyalty?
- The lesson that Pops Racer learned when Rex had to leave home is to always leave the door open for him to return. Why do you think some parents try to force their grown children to stay at home by saying that if they leave they can never come back? Did you ever experience this?