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Speed Racer Movie Poster

Speed Racer
One out of Five Stars
Genre: Action, Comic Book Adventure
Rated: PG
Directed by:
Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Scott Porter, Paulie Litt, Kick Gurry, Richard Roundtree
Released by: Warner Bros.

In Short: Exciting visuals cannot make up for this cartoonish action flick’s deathly boring dialogue and plot.
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Eye-Popping Adventure
All Flash, No Substance

kay, okay, "Speed Racer" is a movie based on a 1960s Japanese anime cartoon that most baby boomers know and love, but here's the thing. Does the fact that a big-budget feature film is based on a cartoon (or a comic) mean that it has to have the most insipid dialogue and paint-by-the-numbers plot in the history of movies?

In the hands of the Wachowski brothers (best known for their "The Matrix" trilogy), the answer to that question is a resounding, incredibly boring "Yes!" for those of us over the age of seven. Sure, the movie is visually exciting, with the racing sequences ramped up with special effects that put them out of this world and into the future, but that innovative style only holds our attention for the first twenty minutes of this overlong (two hours plus) flick. It's a bad sign when even the young kids in the audience start squirming and loudly asking what is going on—and that happened more than once as "Speed Racer" plodded on.

Speed Racer
Emile Hirsch and Christina Ricci in "Speed Racer"

The plot is simple. Pops, Speed Racer's dad (John Goodman), is a renowned car designer, whose eldest son Rex (Scott Porter) is a great racecar driver. But when Rex is killed in a race, the driving falls to his younger brother Speed (Emile Hirsch). As Speed races to avenge his brother's death and win the big race, his stalwart family, including mom (Susan Sarandon), little brother Sprittle (Paulie Litt), pal Trixie (Christina Ricci), and the family's trusty chimpanzee Chim Chim all band together to help him reach his twofold goals.

To say "Speed Racer" is predictable and dull is an extreme understatement, but for children ages six to about twelve, the plot may be something they have not seen before, and certainly the visuals are new to us all. The problem is, parents these days cannot drop off their kids at the movies and go off to do something else, which means grown-up suffering that goes on for hours. What we won't do for our children!

Review by Jenny Peters

PES041408 (Updated: 05/09/08 LH)

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