I don't know a lot about Speed Racer aside from what I've gleaned from the theme song over the years -- apparently, the young man's a demon on wheels -- so, in many ways, I'm the best possible audience for Larry and Andy Wachowski's new big-screen interpretation of the character. Originally a Japanese animation program exported and re-dubbed for the American market in the '60s, Speed Racer has now been revived and revitalized for now. And the Wachowskis have created a blast of pure pop family fun; Speed Racer's a bright, bold visual spectacle designed for kids.
And why shouldn't it be? Or, rather, how could it not? This is a property where one of the supporting characters is, after all, a monkey; any fully-grown individual hoping for an adult action film or racing realism is looking in the wrong place. Speed Racer plays like a car-crazed visual wonder -- it looks and feels like what pop artist Roy Lichtenstein would dream if you locked him in a room full of gas fumes, gave him only candy to eat and showed him nothing but Tron, Indianapolis 500 footage, episodes of the '60s Batman TV show and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. All at the same time. With the volume very, very high.