Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Speed Racer: rated G?

Susan Sarandon talks about the Wachowski Brothers' SPEED RACER:

Tommy Lee Jones: What is the movie about?

Susan: It’s a cartoon called Speed Racer which they’re now making into a movie. What the stories about is John Goodman and I are mom and pops and he makes racing cars and it’s about the corruption of sports by corporations and of course while we were doing it all these horrible things were happening in the sports world – including the racing world. It’s all about cheating and betting and how things are fixed and everything else, but it’s also about family values and pancakes are love.

Q: There is a lot of talk that it might be rated G? Are they still going for that?

Susan: Yeah.

Rated G? I remember Speed Racer reruns from childhood as one of the most violent things on television. Cars had wheel-hub spikes and deployed giant saws to mangle their competitors. I remember a sequence where a disembodied head rolled to the side of the road.

You can argue whether kids can handle depictions of such violence. I think I turned out okay but at the time I was a little creeped out by the show. To my kid-brain it just seemed wrong.

Now it's great if the Wachowski Brothers want to make a G-rated live-action cartoony movie for today's kids, but why choose Speed Racer for that purpose? If I were to remake this cartoon as a hugely expensive modern live-action film, I'd aim it at the original audience of the show who are now mature adults. I could stay true to the tone of the original, and capture a more guaranteed audience.

Sure, real fans will go see a kid-safe version. Eventually. Once. But will they line up on day 1 and help generate positive buzz? Will they contribute to box-office figures for the first crucial weekend? Will they buy it on DVD?

Maybe they're dreaming up a way to make it kid-friendly and still attract the adults who remember a fairly dark and violent original.