Off Track

`Speed Racer' - full of eye-popping color - runs out of gas when it comes to plot

Review C

May 09, 2008|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

The Wachowski Brothers, the same overgrown boy wonders who concocted The Matrix, create a psychedelic candy store in Speed Racer, then get caught in it with their eyes popped, their brains blown and their pants down. It's a family film done as a trip film. It is a trip, but it's a bad trip.

This new version of the Japanese cartoon series about a child auto-racing champ named, with charming obviousness, "Speed Racer," is live-actor, but not exactly live-action. The Wachowskis cast Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer, Susan Sarandon as Mom Racer and John Goodman as Pops Racer, then filmed them against a green screen, adding layer after layer of computer-generated imagery to create intricate props and sets and dizzying deep-focus panoramas. The process turned bare-bones mechanical driving rigs into the movie's real standouts: its super-souped-up cars.

Speed Racer (Warner Bros.) Starring Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman. Directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski. Rated PG for violence and language. Rated 129 minutes.

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