'Speed Racer' spins its wheels - Tucson Local Media: El Sol

'Speed Racer' spins its wheels

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Posted: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 11:00 pm

PG for sequences of action, some violence, language and brief smoking. One star out of four.

In adapting the 1960s Japanese anime television series, writer-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski have created a noisy, overlong, mind-numbing extravaganza that seems tailor-made for nobody but themselves and their twisted sensibilities.

At two hours and 15 minutes, it’s way too long for little kids, the only ones for whom this explosion at a crayon factory would seem even vaguely entertaining. Adults seeking the nostalgia of their own childhood will just be disappointed, because “Speed Racer” the movie bears little resemblance to “Speed Racer” the TV cartoon.

And even racing fans will have trouble following the races, because they’re edited in such a way that it’s impossible to tell who’s in the lead, who’s gaining and where the finish line is. It’s not like you can rely on the performances to make the experience worthwhile, either. “Speed Racer” wastes the talents of people who truly can act and are capable of far more than functioning as cogs within such candy-coated chaos.

Emile Hirsch stars as Speed Racer, who likes to race and still misses his older brother, Rex (Scott Porter), who died suspiciously in competition years ago. That’s about all we know about him — and because his character is so underdeveloped, it’s impossible to care whether he wins, loses, breaks any of Rex’s records or even ends up in one piece.

Christina Ricci co-stars in the inert, thankless role of Speed’s girlfriend, Trixie (though her enormous brown eyes and severe pixie cut do seem appropriately cartoonish), with Susan Sarandon and John Goodman as Mom and Pops Racer.

The story has something to do with the corrupt mogul Royalton (Roger Allam), who fixes races and wants to drag Speed over to the dark side of the sport.

Kids will love that!

But “Speed Racer” is, of course and unfortunately, mainly about the races — a never-ending blur of lights and color, an overlapping cacophony of drivers and announcers, flying car parts and flailing crowds.

Afterward, the last thing you’ll want to do is get into your own car. But you may have a craving for Skittles.


PG-13 for some sexual and crude content, and language, including a drug reference. Two stars out of four.

Come on, now. You already know “What Happens in Vegas.” You’ve undoubtedly seen the ubiquitous television commercials in which Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher bicker and beat each other black-and-blue but, secretly, seethe with lust. And you already know that they’ll end up softening their stances and falling for each other in the end — it’s pretty standard stuff by now. One does not go to a romantic comedy for plot twists.

What happens in “Vegas,” however, is exactly what you would expect: It’s formulaic, slapsticky, silly and loud, until it goes all gooey in the end.

Sentimentality is not a particularly good fit for either star. But still, Diaz and Kutcher have enough charisma individually and enough spark together to make this otherwise forgettable movie vaguely tolerable.

Diaz and Kutcher co-star as Joy McNally and Jack Fuller, opposites who meet in Las Vegas and get married after a night of drunken debauchery. While screeching at each other in a hungover stupor the next morning, he hits a $3 million jackpot on a slot machine with one of her quarters. Once they return to New York to fight over the money in divorce court, a judge who’s militant about marriage (Dennis Miller) forces them to make it work before either of them can get their hands on a cent.

The fact that they are so incompatible in the cold, hard light of day isn’t just uncomfortable for these two, it’s dangerous. Despite their disparate backgrounds, they both find creative ways to undermine each other in hopes of grabbing the whole $3 million for themselves.

The extreme meanness is actually a good thing — a lot of movies would be afraid to go so far — it’s the hackneyed gags about hair balls in the sink and leaving the toilet seat up that make you really want to groan.

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