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Discuss this week's Joe Loves Crappy Movies here!

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Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.

Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.

With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.

Speed Racer

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Scott Porter,

Directed by: Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski


The Official Site of Speed Racer

Discuss Speed Racer on the boards!

The Matrix sequels suck. (Not exactly the best way to begin a review about a family friendly racecar movie featuring a Korean pop sensation and a monkey wearing clothes, but I’m a little rusty. Bear with me.) I don’t necessarily agree with that actually. I don’t love them, but it’s more accurate to say that The Matrix sequels were not as good as we expected them to be. A classic victim of expectation like Back to the Future 3 or Temple of Doom (I don’t really have a problem with those movies either, to be honest.) People forget that before the Wachowski Brothers ruined the Matrix franchise, they created it with one of the most impressive displays of action and imagination of the past 20 years. They made a movie so good that people are still ripping it off. It’s just easier to remember the “not as awesome but still kind of ok” sequels they followed it up with. It’s our fault really that those movies were so poorly received. It’s not that they’re terrible; it’s just that it wasn’t what we expected.

By my count, going into their latest movie Speed Racer, the Wachowski’s are 2 for 4 in terms of really great movies. The Matrix and their first movie, Bound balance out Reloaded and Revelations at a mediocre 50%. Half of the time they’re perfect and an ancient anime cartoon come to life, sped into theaters this weekend to break the tie.

If only they could escape expectations. With Speed Racer expectation will still play an enormous factor. Whether you were a legitimate fan of the cartoon as a kid or hapless victim of the hipster resurgence in the early 90's, chances are you've spent a little time with Speed Racer, be it from the actual cartoons or on some T -shirt your older brother told you was cool. And if you have those memories or that experience, then you're expecting something from this adaptation.

Try not to.

Speed Racer is an assault on the senses like you've never experienced before. A vivid masterpiece of color and energy come to life before your eyes. Dizzying? Visually Exhausting? Sure - at times… but what great movie doesn't make you work a little? I welcomed this slap in the face to wake me up and remind me that the summer blockbuster season is officially here.

The first 15 minutes of the film (of which you can watch the first 7 minutes of in streaming HD via this ridiculously long text link, or just below in the viewer) is nearly flawless. They jump through time introducing us to all the characters through flashbacks, voice-overs and an amazing race where a young upstart named Speed Racer is about to set a new track record!

It’s a beautifully edited sequence that brings you right in, subtly presenting not just the people we need to know and where they come from, but also the way the story will be told. Though Speed Racer features plenty of treats for your eyes to devour, it’s in the way the film is edited and the story is told that it truly stands out.

In this futuristic lightshow of a universe, racing is a business and at the top of the pyramid are wealthy aristocrats taking advantage of people like Speed and his family in there quest for more money and more power. Races are fixed, companies are bought and the little man takes the fall. Speed wants nothing to do with this kind of lifestyle. Racing is in his blood and, as much as he would love to win the big race, he'll never sell out to a fixed system.

That's all fine and good, this layer of corruption adds a much needed element of villainy beyond dirty racers on the track, but Speed Racer is about profiteering the same way Star Wars is about a trade embargo. Impressed or not by the scintillating back-story, like watching the Deathstar and/or Liam Neeson get split in two, Speed Racer comes to life on the racetrack.

Begin your complaining now.

I was one of you for a while. My first reaction to the racing clips from the teaser trailer released months ago was that at some point they jump right into the sugary wasteland of Spy Kid’s 3D. As time went on I came to accept it, trying to remind myself that this was a movie for kids, but damned if I wasn’t really impressed with how the sequences turned out.

Let me backtrack a little. There are times where it looks just plain fake, almost as if the technology just isn't there. You know how they say, "It's a good thing Spider-man wasn't made when they first wanted to make it because it would have looked like crap." Well there are definitely parts of Speed Racer where it feels a few years off, if you know what I mean.

To a degree it's intentional. The movie is constantly testing the boundaries between cartoons and reality. It just becomes hard to ignore those boundaries when there are 20 brightly lit cars bouncing off each other in a completely digital landscape. Realistically I have no doubt that the Wachowski's could have created a perfectly realized race scene with cars that looked like cars and explosions that didn't look like something that Roger Rabbits might throw up - but that just wouldn't be Speed Racer would it?

If you're hesitant about these scenes the only thing I would say to you is, "Hang in there." They're jarring and odd but as the races progress you'll be glad you stuck around. Car flips and hidden weapons introduce an element of surprise that you won't find on any other racetrack. They distract you from the obvious separation from reality and set a wonderful tone that will remind you of what it’s like to watch a really awesome cartoon. So relax. Try not to over think it. Actually that’s a great rule to apply to most kid’s movies.

I’ve breezed through a couple of Speed Racer reviews by professional critics, you know –trying to get a feel for how this should be done - and a chief complaint seems to be that the film is all flash and no soul. I respectfully disagree.

While Speed Racer features a very simple story of right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, I feel that it hits the important notes squarely on the head. Family is paramount as we see the Racers dealing with the loss of one of their own. There are some wonderful one on one scenes between Speed (Emile Hirsch who has really found himself as an actor over the last few projects) and his parents (Susan Sarandon and John Goodman) as well as his brother Rex, brilliantly cast in Scott Porter who sells this crucial bond between brothers and does so with such limited time on screen. These little moments may not be more important than making those races work on the big screen, but they were far from soulless.

That’s just one of the reasons why Speed Racer works, why I feel that it’s the most entertaining movie of the year so far. Believe me, that sentence is not something I took lightly, especially one week after Iron Man properly launched the summer and the generally Rotten response to Speed overall. More on the comparison after the rating below, but in the eyes of this critic Speed Racer is simply amazing. An exciting and original effort that’s safe for the whole family, visually intense, and – at the very least - a definitive tiebreaker. The Wachowski's handily move up to a 3-2 count.

Rating: 9 out of 10 - I absolutely loved Speed Racer and decided to award a rating that would reflect that. Beyond just how much sheer fun the film is the rating also reflects the risks taken in putting it together. This movie is shot and edited in a truly unique way. One that audiences weren’t really willing to give a chance, but one that I thought was extremely successful.

I’m grading Speed slightly higher than Iron Man (Which I’m putting at an 8 or 8.5 at this point) because it takes more chances. This isn’t something I realized until Phil pointed it out to me last week but, as much fun as Iron Man is, it’s very safe. It plays by the rules and it does so gorgeously, but it never really pushes the envelope. It never tries anything new. Not the way Speed Racer does.

I can’t blame them really. Excessive greenscreen and unorthodox editing styles have backfired in the past and based on the weekend box office it backfired with Speed as well. The “safe” movie is laughing all the way to the bank for a second week in a row.

Obviously I’ll elaborate more on this in the full Iron Man review, but I didn’t think I could drop that bomb in the last paragraph in the Speed review without defending it a little. So please, no nasty e-mails until I full explain myself, but if you must – send them to Phil because he’s the one that made me aware of it.

Speed Racer may have had trouble finding an audience in theaters but I think it’ll thrive on DVD. People are much more forgiving when they can just wrap it up in a Netflix mailer or change the channel and be done with it forever. When it comes to putting on pants, leaving the house and paying money to watch something, people are naturally going to be a little grouchy. I’ve got pants on right now and it’s pissing me off! My point I guess is that people will give Speed a chance on DVD and that’s all a lot of people will have to do to enjoy it a little.

It will find a place in my collection. I had no trouble following the majority of the flashy effects on the big screen (though I’m sure there are a couple sideline crashes I missed in the visual parade) but it’ll all be tightened up and sharper on the small screen. This might be a good movie to add to my “Wait Until You Own a Blue Ray” list, just to make sure I’m getting the full experience.

Currently on the W.U.Y.O.A.B.R. list: Spider-man 3, Transformers, Live Free or Die Hard. Maybe Iron Man… What are the chances Blue Ray dvds will get cheap in a year?

- The cone wars trailer ran before Speed Racer and made a nice impression on me.

Skywalker looking for Jabba's kidnapped son seems like another "convenient connection" between the franchise characters (seriously, how small is this galaxy? There's got to be more than 3 dozen people in it.) Still, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't charmed by the 3D modeling of these animated characters.

Usually there needs to be a good reason to make the leap to animation. You know, like telling a story with Han Solo where he looks like he's 30 even though Harrison Ford looks closer to 70. Instead the Clone Wars focuses on the first, more recently filmed prequels starring the still age appropriate Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, and Sam Jackson. They’ve gone the animation route this time either to save a little cash or spare us another 2-hours with Christensen ruining our favorite space opera.

Seriously. There's so much that can be done with animation that is just plain harder to do in real life. Do you want to see Obi Wan back flip 6 or 30 times in his next big duel? And how soon do you want to see it - this summer or 2016?

Lucasarts had a lot of success with the 3 seasons of the Clone Wars, done in a more traditional looking 2D style, so a jump to the big screen is not so odd. It looks great and will hopefully flesh out the missing pieces of the Prequels so I say bring it on.

A bunch of Junk - It’s weird. There are points in the movie where Speed Racer feels like Ang Lee’s Hulk, Spy Kids 3D and the live action monstrosity The Cat in the Hat, but even though it takes the most controversially awful parts of those movies and jams them all together… it still kinda works. I have no proper explanation other than I was probably a little more prepared for those controversial effects with Speed than I was for any of those other movies. Being exposed to it early prepared me for the worst. It let me walk in with the right mindset and enjoy the larger-than-life storytelling for what it is.

While I don’t recommend The Cat in the Hat or Spy Kid’s 3D for… you know… watching, I would tell you to check out the first Spy Kids film as well as another Dr. Seuss classic, the number one movie of 2008 (so far), Horton Hears a Who!

“Coming Soon.” Is a phrase being used around here a lot these days and I wish I had a good excuse for its frequency but… is there ever really a good excuse? Family commitments, extra work at the day job, being genuinely more excited by your other comics or just growing to dislike the state of Hollywood and the way the Internet critiques it. It’s all just life and it all never really matters in the long run. I should have rushed a crap review of Made of Honor and at least had something fresh up.

You guys are too good for that though and despite the title of this comic – I do not like crap. At least when it pertains to the quality of a JLCM comic, and if it can’t be good it can’t be at all.

This is all a little cryptic, and I don’t mean to be so deliberately, but it’s just not worth getting into right now. Perhaps in the future. For now – my apologies. I love you guys and have cherished the supportive e-mails. I want to give you the best comics I can. I hope you get that. Let’s just get things moving again right? Focus on the future. I’ll do my best to make sure it’s a cheerier and more informative one.

Joe Dunn's Facebook profile

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Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - The Introduction

Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.

First Appearance - Fever Pitch

Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.

First Appearance - V for Vendetta

Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison

Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.

First Appearance - 300

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe

Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.

First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet

Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.

First Appearance - Four Brothers

Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.

First Appearance - Ultraviolet

Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.

First Appearance - The Producers

Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!

Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?

First Appearance - Saw IV

Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V