A mighty thanks to all of those who posted to let me know that I shouldn't be afraid to go see Speed Racer. I did, and I agree--it was a good movie. I enjoyed it more than Iron Man, actually--though I understand why I would be in the minority on that one.
Seeing the movie, and knowing the reviews and the performance of the film (if you haven't been watching, it's in the process of a complete belly-flop at the box office) leaves me thoughtful. There are plenty of times when I've either disagreed with the reviewers or with the movie going public--but it's rare that I disagree with both of them on the same film. That leaves me curious as to what happened with this film, which is an interesting exercise for anyone--like myself--who relies on the whims of reviewers and consumers to make their living.
So, why did I like this film while very few others seemed to? Well, I do have to admit that I'm a fan of the old cartoon. This film stayed extremely faithful to the spirit of the original, I believe, which means it adopted some of the inherent cheesiness and over-the-top storytelling. This was not a subtle movie. Perhaps as a fan of the original, I didn't mind the exaggerated scenes, as I got hit with nostalgia factors.
And perhaps that's one problem with the film and its marketing. For someone to appreciate some of these nostalgia factors, you would have to be around my age--and getting people my age out to a PG rated flick can be a little difficult.
However, Howard wrote that he liked the show, and he hadn't watched the original cartoon. So my enjoyment might have come from other places as well. One thing that Howard and I share is that both of us are religious. Now, this wasn't a religious show, but anyone who IS religious and attends church regularly (particularly, from my experience, the LDS church) has to come up with a Cheesiness filter. I'm not at all disparaging religion, but let's face it, the whole church experience tends to be a little over-emotional and involves a lot of 'smack you in the face' moral metaphors.
The film was pretty big on both of these concepts. It had basic morals and some melodrama. I can see that this would put some people off, but I deal with both regularly, and can not only filter them--but actually enjoy them to an extent.
So, since I subconsciously tolerated/loved the camp of this film, I was left with the amazing special effects driving a film with some good-natured humor, some fun (if basic) plotting, and some very good acting. (Many reviews, while panning the film for its camp, praised the acting and special effects.)
I don't know if that analysis is correct, but the fact is that I went to the movie and sincerely enjoyed it. In fact, it's probably the best I've seen this year. The visuals were astounding, and the overall experience quite enjoyable. I think the Wachowski brothers are great filmmakers. I just worry that they accidentally made a film which is too campy for the twenty/thirty somethings, too 'kid-looking' for the teens and tweens, and too busy and crazy for the parents to take their kids to.
In a final note, I'd love to have taken my grandmother to this film. She thinks that documentaries are too busy, loud, and fast-paced. This would have made her head explode.