LOS ANGELES — Avid Lakers fans might tell you that this year’s squad is bringing “Showtime” back to the NBA. But this past Saturday afternoon, the biggest show in town wasn’t at the Staples Center, but right across the street at the brand-new Nokia Theater, as celebrities, their families and hundreds of boisterous kids braved an oppressively hot day to herald a new cinematic hero, screaming in one loud, clear voice a simple message:
“Go, Speed Racer! Go!”
Not even a mile from the infamous area known as Skid Row, the square was transformed on Saturday into some kind of fantasyland Pit Row, with a circular carpet laid out to look like a racetrack and piles of loose tires casually besotting its winding course.
So complete was the transformation, the carpet even had its very own JumboTron — courtesy of the Staples Center, of course — which showcased clips from the movie as the “Speed Racer” theme played incessantly over the roaring din.
But the real star of the afternoon wasn’t Speed Racer but his car, the Mach 5, the centerpiece of the red-carpet premiere, both literally, in terms of placement, and figuratively, in terms of what everybody was talking about.
“I get to start it!?!” co-star Scott Porter exclaimed when he was asked to put the pedal to the metal for a vehicle showcase prior to the start of the carpet. A converted Corvette, the Mach 5 boasts a classic chassis with a sleek, modern interior — souped up, tricked out and one of a kind. (And, by the way, it purrs like a kitten.)
It’s a mixture of old and new that was reflected by the attendees themselves, an unusual crowd where elementary school children outnumbered celebrities 100 to 1 — a ratio that was helped by the fact that nearly all the stars, including J.J. Abrams, Victoria Beckham, Brad Bird and Susan Sarandon, brought children of their own.
“I’m excited to be here,” Matthew Fox enthused, “but I’m extra excited that my kids get to see it.”
Amid all the kids and their parents, there was one face, however, that clearly exhibited the most excitement: the one belonging to lead actor Emile Hirsch, who bounced around the carpet like a renegade pinball, a toothy smile stitched to his face.
It was enough to make anyone want to scream: “Go, Speed Racer! Go!”
“Speed Racer” hits theaters nationwide on May 9.
Don’t miss TRL’s “Speed Racer” special today at 3:30pm EST as Racer X invades the set!
Check out everything we’ve got on “Speed Racer.”
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