There is nothing wrong or suspect about liking a film that almost everyone else hates. On the contrary, it is the mark of a critic who’s probably worth reading …as long as he/she doesn’t go all Armond White on disliked or discredited films too often. That said, it’s a bit of an eye-opener (or is it a dark omen?) that MCN’s David Poland has given a fairly hearty thumbs-up to Speed Racer (Warner Bros., 5.9)
With tracking looking dicey at best and a Rotten Tomatoes positive rating of 37% (as of Wednesday afternoon), this animated Wachowski brothers action film needs all the friends it can get. I do know that Poland has been totally in the Wachowski tank from the beginning, and that his enthusiastic and persistent praise for both The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were divorced from the reality of those films that I came to know. (Yes, I was warm on Reloaded at first, but it faded upon reflection and then the curtains parted when I saw it a second time.)
For all I know Poland is on the money, and again, he has my respect for going against the grain. That said, I had a much better time (as I frequently do) reading Anthony Lane‘s New Yorker review, particularly this opening paragraph:
“Gluttons for Duck Soup will remember the scene in which Groucho is faced with an official document. ‘Why, a four-year-old child could understand this report,’ he says. ‘Run out and find me a four-year-old child.’ My sentiments exactly, as I sat in a cathedral-size auditorium, wreathed in the ineffable mysteries of Speed Racer. This is the latest offering from Andy and Larry Wachowski, bringers of The Matrix, and, if it is about anything, it is about the quest to overwhelm a particular stratum of the masses. A four-year-old will be reduced to a gibbering but highly gratified wreck; an eight-year-old will wander around wearing a look that was last seen on the face of Dante after he met Beatrice. But what about the rest of us? True, our eyeballs will slowly, though never completely, recover, but what of our souls?
“I reckon the M.P.A.A. should use the advent of Speed Racer to revive an old ratings symbol: a big Roman X, meaning ‘of no conceivable interest to anyone over the age of ten.'”