Speed Racer - DVD Review

'if it wasn’t for the fact he had a ludicrously out of place white X on his forehead, then Racer X might have also been a candidate for unexpectedly good superhero of the year'

I will admit to not feeling on top of the world as I write this; I have a head cold that may well be developing into full-blown man-flu, despite the above fact I once again appear to be the only one in the office and to top it off it appears to be the coldest day in a significant amount of time in my sleepy, northerly, part of England (there was frost on the inside of my car this morning… THE INSIDE!?). Having stated all of the above none of these can diminish from the sense of positivity I felt when I finished watching Speed Racer over the weekend.

This is strange because for a generally cynical chap like me, Speed Racer is easy to knock. For a start it’s made by the Wachowskis who were last seen ruining a franchise like children who can’t stop throwing their favourite toy against a wall. The there’s the weighty moral message of the plot, (‘What’s that skip? A big evil corporation that’s threatening to suck the life blood out of humanity and ruin the secure family hub once and for all? Do tell…’) the ever-annoying presence of Susan Sarandon as the put-upon mother and a boy/chimp double act which single-handedly attempts to prove the ‘never work with animals or children’ motto.

Despite all this though I genuinely, genuinely enjoyed Speed Racer. The plot is cheesy yes but hey, if you’ve got kids then it’s well worth getting them to watch it just to introduce a bit of cynicism into their lives. The introduction of Matthew Fox’s Racer X helps matters too, providing a bit of an anti-hero we can all root for rather than the wet blanket that is Emile Hirsch’s Speed Racer. I’m not Hirsch’s biggest fan but he does at least prove here he is on much more comfortable ground as silent, stupid, put-upon ‘hero’ than as the serious non-hero in Into The Wild. The rest of the cast all do brilliant jobs as well and are generally well used by the brothers W. Even Sarandon is miraculously under-used!

Speed Racer is, in a lot of ways, the perfect antithesis and simultaneous antidote to our troubled times. It is unabashed fun but cannot help poking fun at ‘the man’ and his institutions. While the story will wash over you the visuals will demand your attention and only on one occasion (the desert scenes) can I remember them letting me down. If it wasn’t for the fact he had a ludicrously out of place white X on his forehead, then Racer X might have also been a candidate for unexpectedly good superhero of the year.

So for every cynic sitting out there in a cold office who’s got as much chance of renting Mary Poppins tonight as they have Speed Racer; treat the kids and give it a go. For God’s sake even the monkey and the child are relatively amusing!


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