“Speed Racer” – Susan Granger reviews

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If you’re into high-octane car racing, trippy Japanese anime and awesome visuals, this is spectacular family fare.

Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch of “Into the Wild”) is obsessed with racing. Despite the death of his adored older brother, Rex, who was presumably killed in an accident years earlier, the sport is a family passion. His dad (John Goodman) runs an independent racing team with the moral (and culinary) support of his mom (Susan Sarandon) and to the delight of his 11 year-old brother, Spritle (Paulie Litt), along with his pet chimpanzee, and Speed’s perky, helicopter-pilot girl-friend, Trixie (Christina Ricci).

When Speed’s recruited to join ultramodern Royalton Industries, he refuses, infuriating its owner (Roger Allam), who maintains that money rules and the biggest races are ‘fixed’ with the finishing order planned and controlled. If Speed won’t drive his Mach 5 for Royalton, the family business is in jeopardy, along with his life. After preliminary skirmishes, Speed teams up his one-time rival, mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox of “Lost”) who is working with a secret law-enforcement agency. The 91st Annual Grand Prix turns out to be a showdown with corrupt big business.

On their first writing/directing collaboration since the “Matrix” trilogy, Andy and Larry Wachowski spent $120 million – and every penny shows in the 2000+ edgy, vibrant, candy-colored, kaleidoscopic visual effects. They’ve invented a new process of combining CGI with live action, utilizing perspective control that allows two images to be in focus at the same time. Designed by ‘carchitects,’ their World Racing League is an acrobatic, full-contact motor sport, described as ‘Car-Fu,’ automotive martial arts.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Speed Racer” is an intense, adrenaline-pumping, unstoppable 8 – and don’t forget the sleek Hot Wheels tie-in toys, including 1,500 action-figures.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.