starring Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Matthew Fox
written and directed by The Wachowski Brothers
by Walter Chaw This generation's Tron lands with unsurprisingly little fanfare early in the 2008 blockbuster sweepstakes, the victim of niche nostalgia and bottomless kitsch as well as the theory that total indulgence from all involved will prevent The Wachowski Brothers' Speed Racer from turning out to be their Spruce Goose. I've seen just enough "Speed Racer" cartoons to recognize when people like John Goodman are impersonating badly-drawn '60s television anime (as opposed to Goodman impersonating badly-drawn '60s Hanna-Barbera)--and just enough, too, to futilely hope against hope that there wouldn't be a chimp and a chubby tyke who stow away in a racecar's trunk now and again. But I haven't seen nearly enough of the TV series to want to see more of it, and after enduring the Cool World live-action version of "Speed Racer", I confess I've sort of lost the will to live. In other words, I was never a fan of the cartoon and was mainly interested in this trainwreck on the strength of Bound and The Matrix. Still, I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't take a moment to laud the brothers on their audacity--the very quality I appreciated in the two Matrix sequels, which were, by most analysis, disasters. It seems like sour grapes to knock the picture besides--or at least it seems futile, because the Wachowskis don't appear to care what people think of them along their road to wearing Kleenex boxes on their feet and saving their pee in mason jars. Speed Racer is exhibit one in the case that the Wachowskis aren't in it for praise (they're not going to get any credible praise here) or money (they're already loaded), but rather to luxuriate in the contents of their den's shelves: first Alan Moore comics with V for Vendetta, now this excruciatingly faithful reproduction of an inexplicable camp artifact. Perhaps we should count our blessings that they weren't huge fans of "Voltron."