Go *$%#*&@ Speed Racer!

May 7, 2008
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Last night I caught a sneak preview of “Speed Racer,” the would-be summer blockbuster from the makers of “The Matrix.”

This overlong adaptation of the cheesy kids show of yesteryear has a cool color palate, a lead performance from Emile Hirsch that’s better than the film deserves, impenetrable plot twists and computer-generated stunt work that break physics laws left and right. (I refer you to Tom Rogers’ book “Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics” if you are interested in such things.)

It’s also got three or four uses of the a-word, one s-word and a kid flipping the bird to a bad guy.

Now, I’m not a prude when it comes to language. I’ll happily quote along with “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Raging Bull.” What bugs me is the unnecessary nature of the usage here - and the fact that it is embedded in a PG movie that has no greater ambition than to gosh-wow its audience.

So am I just being an old guy? Should George Carlin’s “Seven words you can’t say on television” be welcomed in PG movies? Is the fact that my 6-year-old son has heard these words before enough reason for me to chill out and take whatever the “Speed Racer” creative folks throw at us?

And would the language be more tolerable if the film weren’t so dull?

Your thoughts?
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  • You're #$%%@!! right that such language shouldn't be in a %^&$#@ PG movie. (seriously.)
  • Thanks for the notice. I like the commercials, but now know it is off-limits to see at the movies or for family purchase later!
  • I agree. Had they thrown in the f-word once, it would have gotten a PG-13 rating; twice and it's R. But graphic violence only warrants a PG-13 rating. Go figure.
  • Hmm. What's worse, abuse of language or abuse of physics?

    Seriously, it seems fairly pointless. Why would they feel the need to use such language in something based on a Saturday morning cartoon and aimed at the under-10 set? Obvioiusly realism is out the door as a justification. I'm all for artistic freedom and dead-set against censorship, but I'm not a big fan of crassness or lazy writing either.
  • Brian,
    That's part of what threw me. There is a choice word or two in ET and Zathura, but at least they seem to come out of the characters, not the writers pandering.
  • Yes . . . to this day I remember Elliott hurling p*nis breath at his brother in E.T., but he was an emotionally frazzled boy, and his mom got mad at him for it! (It's also hilarious.)

    I would find this objectionable for the same reason I find the incessant fart jokes and already-dated pop-culture references in SHREK tiresome - not because they're leading down some slippery slope of cultural decay, but because they're just, well, lazy - the substitution of a cheap shot for genuine cleverness. (There are entire films based on this principle, e.g. the _______ MOVIE (date, scary, etc.) franchise.)
  • You go hang out at a mall, a coffee shop, or even a playground. And then listen to how kids talk to each other. I think kids today are exposed to more language due to music, video games, cable TV, comics and graphic novels, etc. And I don't think it's a bad thing, it just is what it is. I think parents should decide what to expose their children to, but they can't do that 24/7, so I'm betting they've already heard most of those naughty words as soon as they hit the education system.

    Just my thoughts.
  • But the question remains, why include them in this movie? Just because it's out there, does that mean in the next Toy Story movie that Woody should say to Buzz, Hey, get your a-- over here?
  • In the first Super Man movie starring Christopher Reeve, the writers inserted a scene late in the production process where Supe sees through Lois' skirt to identify that her underwear are pink. That scene was intentionally inserted to garner a PG rating, fearing that a G rated movie simply wouldn't sell. Since movie making is, believe it or not, a business, not just existing for the purposes of giving you two hours of entertainment in the dark, movie producers simply look to give the people what they want. I think you'll find in a week or two that this is a top grossing movie-at least in the short-term. If it was rated G, it would simply be a movie appealing to a much smaller demographic. The inclusion of these words and scenes, I can promise you, is a very calculated business move. You don't have to like it, but there's your reason.
  • Besides all of the explosions, fighting and gunplay, the torture scene--with the bloody mouth--would probably have been plenty to give it a PG. The language didn't tip the scale.
    --Lou
  • All I know is that I want to party with a guy who can quote along with Glengarry Glen Ross. (As long as the kids are out of earshot.)
  • The I hear these words at school all the time argument is one I hear from my 11- and 13-year-old kids, too. My answer to them is, Just because kids get away with it among each other doesn't make it right. The occasional swear word that truly helps make a character seem real is OK and explainable, but gratuitous foul language should be reserved for PG-13.
  • Beth,

    Just remember: A-I-D-A. Attention, Interest, Decision, Action.

    --Lou

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