poster_05OK so I know this is going to be a stretch but I just have to give it a go.  I am Ed Steussy’s younger brother who has a password into this blog (maybe Ed forgot!) and I just feel I hgave to make the case for the best movie of 2008, one roundly panned by nearly everyone who saw it; “Speed Racer”.  I think it was not only the best movie of 2008, but the best movie I have seen in a long time and I realize this needs some explanation.

As a kid growing up in small town central Indiana in the 1970s (born in 66 me) the original “Speed Racer” found occaisionally by spinning our 13 digit TV to the 3 or 4 digits that actually connected to reception, was an enchanting performance.  I remember searching and searching the TV guide to find when it might be on, and finally after years, I gave up.  It seemed it only existed in a memory.

Then a few years ago in the greatest video store in the San Diego area, “Kensington Video” i found the original episodes on DVD and shared them with my (then) 5(?) and 7 year old children.  The episodes were as brilliant as I remembered, though my wife coughed at their violence, she allowed this hallowed memory of my youth to intrude on our day to day experience of raising our young ones.  That X-mas she got bitchin’ replicas 1:33 scale of the “Shooting Star” and the Mach 5.

We now own two of the three DVD sets of the original cartoons and they are a Saturday or Sunday morning favorite still years later.  

   When we went to the movies a couple years ago we saw the trailer and…  I said, or thought…  “huh?”  I didn’t like it.  All wrong.  Then I read the reviews.  Piece of crap.  Too bad. 

Then shooting pool with my literary friend Andy the other night, who has kids the same age, he said, “hey man, check it out, something’s going on in that film”.    The next week back in Kensington Video looking for a X-mas movie we couldn’t agree on my kids grabbed SR, and I thought, “OK” .

Brilliant. To a child of 70s media pop culture, Kung Fu, The Green Hornet,  Johnnie Quest, Herbie the Love Bug, the Pink Panther movies and the 1980(?) cult movie classic, and my first R rated movie “Death Race 2000” (thank you HBO), Speed Racer the movie hits all the right buttons.  I know Ed will toss this post right out on the shredder or cover it with football statistics for saying this but the world invented in the film rivals Blade Runner.  You just have to watch it.

The cars are a brilliant contortion of the future, skateboarding, snowboarding, kung fu and Formula 1.   The world created is not the wonderfully dark distopia of the movie starring Harrison Ford, but is a brilliant, equally so really, interpretation, of the pretty bright cartoon world of the future riddled with darkeness.

Speed Racer is not as simple as good v evil, and this is part of its joy to me.  It works on many levels, but maybe not kid levels, unless they’ve been completely indoctrinated in Speed Racer lore, and maybe this is where the film missed.  Its for us.  Its for adults.  Even Spritle’s admonissions of “Cootie warnings” are more for me than my kids, and I must say, Spritle,Speed, Speed’s dad, Racer X, Inspector Detector , and Trixie, and Sparky are some of the best casting since Harry Potter.   

So see it for yourself.  If you are a child of the 70s and you remember long afternoons with nothing on but Gilligan’s Island and the Andy Griffith show grab this film off the discount shelf.  See  if you don’t like it for yourself.

Leave a Reply