SPEED RACER

I know what you’re all thinking…

This will be… stupid.

And depending on your particular tastes in film you could be right…

But I must say I thought Speed Racer a masterpiece of digital film making. 

 

THE SET UP? Speed Racer, yes that’s his actual name, has been obsessed with car racing and nothing else since childhood. Race car driving for his family is like a religion. But when Speed’s older brother (Rex Racer), the greatest driver, like, ever, dies in a dangerous race the family grows cynical and steps back a bit from their zealous ways. But not entirely, as a few years later Speed emerges as the hottest new driver on the circuit. 

After corporate flirting Speed discovers what the industry is really about and decides the powers who control and fix the races need to be brought to justice. He goes with the help of his family, girlfriend (oooh!) and the mysterious Racer X. 


THE CAST? 

Emile Hirsch – this guy is good. He is excellent as Speed Racer. Similarly to Robert Downey Jr. inIronman (and yes I did just compare an actor you’ve probably never heard of to the great Downey Jr.). Hirsch brings credibility and authenticity to a character in an especially artificial (READ: “blue screen”) world.

Christina Ricci – where did she come from, again? Ricci plays the loyal and supportive, one-of-the-family girl beside Speed’s side. Her performance is quality. She has an adorable chemistry with Hirsch (note: but entirely ok for the younger kids). 

Susan Sarandon – Mom Racer. Sarandon is splendid in whatever she does. She can more or less do no wrong. Her beautiful character in Speed Racer is no exception. Though this is a “kids” movie, she almost made me cry in one scene.

John Goodman – Pops Racer. Nice to see the big guy back on the big screen. He’s great and entirely appropriate as Speed’s dad. He adds pathos to his character, especially when it comes to his relationship with his two racing sons and the speedy spor without it seeming out of place for this genre. (-which I’m still trying to define).

Kick Gurry – gets no billing but I’d like to give the Aussie come kudos here. He sits within the boxy character of Sparky, the Racer’s mechanic well. Sparky’s character swings between goof and pensive reflector and Gurry keeps up with ease. Looking forward to seeing more from this guy!

Matthew Fox – Racer X. Do-do-Do-do-Do-do (meant to sound mysterious…). Hmm… Fox isn’t great. He sits below his fellow actors in Speed Racer, he almost feels like a miscast.

 

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE THIS FILM? 

I could spend a while writing this, coz there are a lot of reasons to make it to the cinema for this one. But I think you should know why, or else you could be disappointed. So I’ll keep it to dot points, shall I? Okay…

– The racing sequences. They really call for the big screen. The effects are great, and if you’re at all keen on looking at different camera angles you’ll love it!

– The acting.

– The wacky editing. Its a bit different, but just enjoy its DIFFERENCE, rather than wishing it was … normal. 

– The narrative of seeing something wrong in the world (an injustice) and using your gifts to fight that wrong. Its a great metaphor. I found it encouraging on that level.

– So you can join my special club of people who get teased for seeing, and liking, Speed Racer. Current membership is 1.

 

WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? 

As long as you don’t drag grandma and pa, anyone. Probably especially kids or people who enjoy slightly alternative cinema. The kids will love the colours, the wacky costumes and settings, and the fast cars, even the youngens will get something out of it!

 

ANY BITS? 

No. Unless fast driving freaks you out. Even the kiss is, well, I won’t spoil the surprise. (He he, I like being annoying.) 

 

THIS FILM GETS 4 GOLD STARS – As I said, watch it and enjoy its difference, its what it is, and it does what it does well. If you don’t try and wish this film was something else, you’d give it 4 Gold Stars too. 

LEATHERHEADS

If you have missed this little gem you may have to wait until DVD. It got 2 weeks at the cinema I work at. Only 2 weeks. Indiana Jones has been on the “No Free Tickets” list for 2 weeks. Anyway, if you managed to catch the oddly titled Leatherheads you’ll know what I’m talking about, great wasn’t it? 

THE SET UP? Its 1925 and WW1 war hero Carter Rutherford (Krasinski) is rocketing to fame via college football. However with the professional game in a shambles it looks like his career will end when he graduates. Professional player and entrepreneur Jimmy ‘Dodge’ Connelly (Clooney) is trying to save the dying game and decides to somehow get the young star Rutherford to play in his team. Meanwhile reporter Lexi Littleton (Zellweger) has been commissioned to write an expose on Rutherford to discover the truth about his so-claimed WW1 heroics. In classic Hollywood style a love triangle develops between the three and so ensues a delightful romp.

 

THE CAST?

George Clooney – Dodge. He was great, without a doubt channelling the Hollywood leading men of yester-year (Cary Grant, Clark Gable etc). He does seem at times a little distracted – probably because he’s directing the piece at the same time.

Renee Zellweger – Lexi. She was gorgeous. A perfect leading lady opposite Clooney’s Dodge. The two have a winning chemistry that is just right for this kind of piece – not a sultry but a classic Hollywood love story.

John Krasinski– Carter Rutherford. Sigh. – A good sigh. I can’t really speak objectively here as I’m kind of in love with Jim from The Office. But his performance was good. He’s most definitely the 3rd player in thispiece and he knows it. Actually I’d go as far as to say he was the best in the film. Too bad he wasn’t discovered in the classic Hollywood era (too bad he wasn’t born then too). 

Jonathan Price is worth a mention too. He plays Rutherford’s manager. Typecast, again, as the rotten scoundrel who never had pure intentions, but he does it so well. 

 

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE THIS FILM?

Its just a fun film. A new film that really adheres to now-dead conventions, dialogue and shots. But that makes it rather brilliant. It’s like your watching a 1950’s or earlier film with actors you recognise because they were in Batman or Bridget Jones or License to Wed. Its just a cute piece, safe for the whole family and fun. 

 

WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? Anyone. Its really totally “safe”. Young kids probably won’t enjoy it so much basically coz the themes will go over their heads but there’s nothing unsavory at all.

 

THIS FILM GETS 3.5 GOLD STARS. 

MADE OF HONOR

or “Honour” if you’re australian.

This was a mistake. But the thing was I knew that going in. I’ll blame it all on Laura who wanted to see this over Leatherheads (no matter, I’ll see that one today).

SET UP?

Tom and Hannah have been friends ever since Tom accidently “dry-humped” her at a college party (you won’t get that info in the trailer). But besides that rather intimate first meet the two developed a platonic friendship based on honesty! In the mean time Tom gets his “intimate-fix” from a barrage of girls who abide by his complex system of rules.

Hannah heads off to Scotland on business and while she is away Tom realises that Hannah is the girl for him. He plans to reveal his newly found affections when Hannah returns. But Hannah returns with a fiance!

Tom is asked to be the maid of honour! His buddies convince him its a good idea as he’s got a better chance of breaking up the wedding from the inside and here begins the trials of Patrick Dempsey as the maid of honour pursing the bride.

(that took a lot longer to explain than i expected – or than it deserves really).

 

THE CAST?

Mc Dreamy – his typecast character continues.

Michelle Monaghan – Hannah. Ever since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang I’ve loved Monaghan. She’s a breath of fresh air and she is good in this.

Kevin McKidd – the Scotsman fiance. Underwritten part – but he plays within his small confines well.

I better also mention Sydney Pollack who sadly passed away (in real life) the other week. Fantastic director, of one of my favourites actually, Sabrina. Oh! In this he plays, Tom’s serial marrying father. 

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE THIS FILM?

You probably shouldn’t.

Acting is barely on par.

Script is woeful. 

Oh, on second thoughts, girls, take your mother. If she’s anything like mine, she’ll love it and you’ll get to hang out together.

 

ANY BITS? Ummm… thunder beads??? – Could have done without that bit. Its more your M-MA romantic comedy than your PG-M rom com, if you get my drift.

THIS FILM GETS 2 GOLD STARS – they belong to Monaghan.