Cocktails And Movies Take Out Theater: “Speed Racer”

by Mike Reyes

Speed Racer Is The Closest Thing To A Living, Breathing Anime

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In 2008, when Speed Racer took a bath at the box office worldwide, The Wachowskis had transformed their careers into the form you see today. Once labeled as “visionary” and adored by most, their stars started to fade with what most considered were subpar sequels to The Matrix. While those films hold up to a certain degree, depending on who you ask, the “wow” factor of the first installment was definitely gone. However, in my opinion at least, I thought those sequels were actually rather good. Speed Racer was the first movie they produced where The Wachowskis weren’t a financial lock at the movies. Instead of making a film that could easily make its budget back, they decided to make a movie that was artistically wealthy. Critics might have panned it, and audiences didn’t exactly flock to it (which was kinda hard with Iron Man minting the Marvel Studios brand, and The Dark Knight casting a shadow on the horizon), but Speed Racer will always have a huge place in my cinematic heart.

Let’s get this engine started!

The FilmSpeed Racer

Speed Racer
Directed ByThe Wachowskis
Year Released: 2008
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Matthew Fox, and Roger Allam.
Rating: PG
Runtime:  135 Minutes
Studio: Warner Brothers

Speed (Hirsch) comes from a family of racing royalty. His brother Rex is a big wheel in the racing circuit, with his parents (Goodman and Sarandon) supporting the family’s pass time with every ounce of heart they have. At least, they did until Rex is taken out in a tragic racing accident. His accident weighing heavily on the family, Speed still wants to follow in his brother’s footsteps and become the best racer on the world circuit. In order to make that dream come true, he’s going to have to defeat the shadows of the past and uncover the corruption thriving in the heart of the very sport he loves. With ubersupportive girlfriend Trixie (Ricci), his kid brother/pet monkey support team, and the mysterious Racer X (Fox) in his camp, our hero will face Ninjas, Vikings, and Korean Pop Stars on and off the race track. In the end, it all comes down to our driver and his supercharged Mach-5; because in the world of racing, the strongest bond is between a driver and their car.

I remember the first time I saw the trailers and being excited to see this movie. Excited enough to disregard the Ticketmaster surcharge on each ticket and take what was becoming a regular trip to the IMAX in Atlantic City’s Tropicana hotel with my then girlfriend and my second youngest brother. When the three of us walked out of the theater, one of us wasn’t really impressed and two of us were blown away. To this day, my brother and I share a bond over the underrated nature of this film, and we’ve gone on to watch it several more times with our family. Speed Racer is one of those movies like The Rocketeer before it that shows off such a love for the genre it’s aping that it becomes a worthy member of the canon while also paying proper homage to it in a modern context. Thanks to the rapidly advancing advent of Green Screen studios (sparked by the equally underrated Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow), the world of the original anime could finally be portrayed accurately. All of the visual trickery and muscle The Wachowskis had forged with their Matrix trilogy is on full display, as well as a lot of new tricks that completely top the previous barriers they’d crossed.

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If I had to describe this film in two words, they’d be “heart and color.” As gorgeous as this movie is to look at and listen to, it’s also a pleasantly un-ironic look at a classic property. No one plays to the lazy shortcuts of their respective roles, and Emile Hirsch only further diversified his range of performance by giving us a Speed Racer to root for… all the way to the finish line. (Also, how the hell didn’t he make the short list for Anakin Skywalker?! We could have had a MUCH better prequel trilogy on our hands!) It would have been easy to make this movie into a self-defacing parody that poked fun at the mismatched vocals, the over the top action, and the concept of motor racing post NASCAR; but The Wachowskis defied laziness and not only played the film straight but they fully embraced everything Speed Racer stood for. 150% good hearted, old fashioned Americana, good guys vs. bad guys fun is what this film serves up, and it does so with a Michael Giacchino soundtrack that heavily borrows from Johny Quest. A soundtrack that, again in my opinion, ranks with his finest efforts.

Most of all, Speed Racer is a movie you can watch with your kids and not only tolerate, but it’s a movie you might end up loving yourself if you go into it correctly. It plays with the edges of unironically proud heroes, but at the same time it doesn’t cheapen out when it comes to teaching those lessons. It has fun without forgetting to keep itself in check story wise, and excusing a couple minor mis-steps, this film started The Wachowskis down a trail that might not make them a lot of money, but definitely endears them in the Film Geek community. Any other filmmaking team could have sold out and tried to recoup the clout they lost with their “lackluster” sequels, but not The Wachowskis. They double down on their unique tastes each time they’re dealt a pair of cards, and I can’t help but respect how it continues to produce underappreciated gems. Cloud Atlas followed in this film’s footsteps, much like Speed followed Rex’s; and I have a sad but appreciative feeling that Jupiter Ascending will follow the same pattern. For now though, we’ll end our story with the fact that if you loved the original (like my mother did as a kid), you’ll be able to introduce your geekdom to a new generation with a viewing of this fine tuned machine.

The Drink

To celebrate the beauty and the fun that is Speed Racer, we found a shooter that celebrates the very machine that makes the magic happen. Armed with defensive weaponry to fight off all the dirty tricksters you can throw at it, and powered by a “single forge Bernoulli Converginator” (“If you want real kick, you go Bernoulli.”), the Mach 5 is probably the best damned race car on the circuit. And so, we drink to its tenacity and its reliability!

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The Mach 5

Ingredients:

½ oz Rumple Minze Peppermint Liqueur
½ oz Jagermeister Herbal Liqueur
½ oz Goldschlager Cinnamon Schnapps
½ oz Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey
½ oz 151 Proof Rum

Instructions:

Pour, Drink, Repeat if nessicary.

Thanks to The Spir.it for the recipe, thank you all once again for joining us for another installment of #TakeOutTheater! Do you have an underappreciated favorite you think we’d dig, and a cocktail that make an excellent companion? Send it our way through Facebook, Twitter, or the Comments section below? Until next week, this has been #TakeOutTheater!

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