Reality, What A Concept
Around 1996, I got a call from my girlfriend at the time. She was calling to inform me that Disney, having succesfully adapted Beauty And The Beast for Broadway, was now eating its own tail with a film adaptation of the musical adaptation of the film. And to make matters worse, she insisted, Fran Drescher was playing Belle. Turned out she had read about the then-upcoming Beautician And The Beast.
I knew she had to be wrong (both because of the ridiculousness of the idea, and because she was wrong about…well, most things), but I still think about that story whenever I hear about another cartoon being adapted to live-action. Because the thought of Fran Drescher belting the song “Home” is ridiculous, but no less so than a movie where Fat Albert is zapped out of the TV and into the “real world” to have an adventure with the granddaughter of the guy who inspired the Bill Cosby routines on which the cartoon was based. Somebody actually thought that was a good idea, and enough people agreed with that person that money was spent making that idea a reality.
Because Hollywood – if “Hollywood” can be spoken of as an entity, for our purposes – never trusts the source material, do they? The Smurfs? Let’s make it about a guy making billboards! Avatar: The Last Airbender? Make everybody white! Okay, we’ll get Slumdog and that guy from The Daily Show as the villains. Casper? Well…isn’t making a Casper movie a bad enough idea already?
And that’s why Speed Racer was such a revelation.
Speed Racer never gets any love. Even when discussing the Wachowskis body of work, it’s always “THE MATRIX and THE SEQUELS TO THE MATRIX andSpeedRacerwasintheretooIguess and CLOUD ATLAS and soon JUPITER ASCENDING!” Beyond that it’s just a bunch of snickering about Larry’s transition to Lana. Well, knock it off and pay attention, because you need to know that this movie FUCKING RULES.
And the old announcer with the hat? Peter Fernandez, the original voice of Speed. And this is all in the first ten minutes. By the end, things get positively psychedelic, and I say that in the best possible way.
So, take heed, Hollywood. If you’re going to continue to insist on making movies of Casper and Rocky and Bullwinkle and Underdog, follow the Wachowskis’ lead. Don’t make the cartoon as it was. Make it how we remember it.
And, if you’re smart…
..make this a reality.
Man, Mowrer’s art has gotten really sloppy, hasn’t it?