52 - Speed Racer
Speed Raceris an exuberant, giddy, unabashed celebration of the
wide-eyed wonder that shines in the eyes of little boys who believe with every
ounce of their being that a 2 inch Hot Wheels car can accelerate at 500mph
through a loop-de-loop, flip majestically into the air over the competition,
and soar into the stratosphere with a jet-propelled rocket (which is obviously
strapped to the back). Physics? Gravity? What are those things?
You leave this film with a shockingly goofy grin plastered all over your face, fully
believing that nothing is impossible and that no one—no one!— can tell you what
you can or can’t do. That is the raw power of this film: to transport you to a
place where the world is an epic adventure waiting to be seized, where dreams
and possibilities are as big as you can imagine them, and where the crushing
mundanity of adulthood is left eating the dust of the sleek, physics-defying
Mach 5 driven by a boy named Speed.
Not only are the visuals gaspingly grand, the story is emotionally resonant. At its heart, Speed Racer is about the value of family, the importance of always doing what you know to be right, and that you never, ever sell out your dreams. Clichéd and oversimplified? You betcha, but the Wachowskis have crafted a film for kids and as such the message is delivered with a younger audience in mind. The values are pure, unambiguous, easy to grasp, and ultimately inspiring. It’s a throwback to the moral simplicity of the ’50s, but that’s not a bad thing: we could use more Leave it to Beaver and less Married With Children these days.
Speed Racer is a return to the innocence and unashamed idealism of childhood, the wide-eyed wonder you unknowingly embraced until adulthood and stress and responsibilities and the harsh realities of life sapped every ounce of it out of you. It is the first time you rode a roller coaster, when you started down that first impossibly high drop and your stomach plunged while your adrenaline rocketed, and at the end you sprinted to the end of the line to ride it over and over and over again. It is the pure, naïve fun you had as a child when you built architecturally unsound castles from blocks and your G.I. Joes battled one another among the ramparts, noble good and wicked evil locked in epic combat, with the good guys always, always triumphing despite hopeless odds. It is the look of sheer joy my daughter gets in her eyes when she sees a puppy and everything fades into the background except petting and playing and being licked in the face until she can’t stop laughing. At that moment, no one can convince her that puppies aren’t the most wonderful things in the entire world.
Speed Racer exists for one reason and one reason alone: to convince children that their dreams are worth fighting for and to convince adults that they can still be children. Go, Speed Racer, Go!!!!!
~ Evan Derrick