British gangsters just aren’t scary. Wanted to get that out of the way up front just to make sure we’re on the same page.

But this has nothing to do with British gangsters. It doesn’t really have to do with gangsters at all. It certainly has nothing to do with England. But that was one of the many thoughts that danced through my mind as I watched Speed Racer – a 135-minute confection by The Wachowskis, which is either a visionary masterpiece or a deliberate and focused mindfuck, carefully designed to decimate the brainwaves of, and deliver a much-deserved Fuck You Asshole to, the Summer season popcorn crowd. Or both.

I’ll let you decide because I’m frankly kind of tired right now. I feel like I just spent an entire afternoon getting gang-banged at a Tokyo arcade, while being force-fed three cheeseburgers and a bowl of jalapeño chicken ramen… Manuchen. Of course. With an egg slipped in there for good measure. As I’ve never actually been to an arcade in Tokyo (nor have I been to Tokyo itself), I can only cull this from my nightmarish vision of what being in such a place may be like. And it may or may not be a lot like sitting through all 135 (with credits) minutes of Speed Racer – a film that was quite elaborately created by The Wachowskis, with the aid of several computers, and opened ceremoniously across the globe in May to decidedly unceremonious results.

Enough with the build-up. I know there’s a lot of love around here for the movie Speed Racer and I can see why. I can also see why the movie tanked like a fucking tank in Tanksville – but that’s besides the point. A part of me is glad they made it. I guess I always wanted to see a weird, esoteric, epic kids film that shines light on athletic corruption. A pixie sticks high for people who love Nascar and Anime and 60’s Pop Nostalgia and Kitsch. For people who love those things at the same time, in the same breath.

Where are you people? Because you weren’t there opening weekend and this movie really needed you there. Shame on you and fuck you, you stupid, stupid people. Because The Wachowskis made the movie you’ve been waiting for since you popped screaming from out of your mothers’ wombs and you let them down by not showing up.

I’m not one of those people. I fucking hate Nascar, Anime comes and goes with me, it depends on my mood if I connect with Nostalgia… Though I do have an appreciation for Kitsch. It’s possible that’s why I decided to sit through this film, when all my companions had to switch it off after 12 minutes and watch Untraceable instead. Let them have the predictable Gregory Hoblit thriller in which Tom Hanks’s son gets boiled alive… Or something like that. I’m a brave man and I’ll stick with The Wachowskis’ little popgasm. Or – ultimate ode to the bubbly essentialness of pop.

I’m glad I stuck it out. A part of me wonders just how this would have played on a huge multiplex screen, rather than my modest 32-incher. Had it not played only dubbed into Spanish by Mexican actors who all sound the same, I would have gone to see it out of mere curiosity. I never did like Speed Racer the cartoon and the trailers made the movie look like complete ass to me. Still… I would have gone to see it. Why not? I don’t know that I would have enjoyed it. It’s about 40 minutes longer than it needs to be and 40 minutes is not 4 minutes or 0 minutes, it’s 40 fucking minutes, which is almost an hour and that is a long overtime in my book.

135 minutes plus credits is a long time to sit down and be pummeled by the kaleidoscopic imagery almost entirely created within the bowels of a computer terminal. Oh, this is all presumably a meaty epic about a young man rising up against the evils of Big Business and Corruption – sticking their fingers in the pies of Good Sportsmanship (this is a kids movie, remember?)… But you might miss that as you are fighting back the epilepsy given to you by the abundance of candy being thrown at your face much like the monkey throws his shit at the face of the very non-threatening British gangster. It was shit. I’m pretty sure. Either that, or chocolate that the fat kid who always ends up in Emile Hirsch’s trunk is always eating. Though he could very well have been eating the pet monkey’s shit. It doesn’t matter. A British gangster gets shit thrown at his face by a monkey in this film.

That’s all that matters.

What did I like about it? I think the cast was up to the task of portraying these cartoon characters and they hit the right notes of whimsy and earnestness in all the right places. Cristina Ricci is barely a blip in the thing but character development is secondary to the explosiveness in a film like this… Plus, I get the sense The Wachowskis really wanted this movie to be about something. So, with all that baggage, the chick gets short-changed as usual. But, as we’ve already seen her the way we wanted to see her in Black Snake Moan, I don’t think anyone cares.

Certainly not the children. They’re here to see an enlightening story about the evils of corruption and to watch a monkey throw shit at a British gangster’s face. They don’t care about Ricci and her formidable breasts.

I thought John Goodman was well cast and he resembled the asshole from the cartoon show. So, that was good.

I especially liked Matthew Fox. He really seemed to know what he was doing and what the movie was. Of the whole cast, he really stood out in his role.

The whole cast was good. I can’t fault them for anything.

I can’t really fault the movie for anything either. I think it is exactly the movie it wanted to be. But, alas, it was not a movie that anyone really wanted to see. Except, of course, all of you who did see it and enjoyed it completely.

Good for you.


DISCUSS…