What most believed would be the highlight and centerpiece of the entire weekend convention ended up being an uneven exhibit of footage from Get Smart and Speed Racer. The short version is that the Get Smart footage and presentation was sensational, while the Speed Racer platform was a dud.
The Warner Brothers movie presentation began with an extended clip from Get Smart– the footage began with a brief showcase of the film’s buddy team, played by Nate Torrence and Masi Oka and continued with the film’s entire airplane sequence. I won’t spoil a moment of this sequence, but will only say that the lengthy set piece featured Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway and absolutely brought the house down. Not since Starfest got an extended first look at the cafeteria scene from Spider-man have I heard an audience go this nuts for an exclusive, never-before-seen series of clips. We got impressive wallops of action and comedy and a few people around me were laughing so hard, I became afraid for their long-term health. Following the hearty applause, the lights went up and Oka and Torrence took the stage. Their Q&A was delightfully odd and unpredictable- while Oka got the expected round of Heroes questions and Torrence had some “great working with Steve Carrell” tidbits, they were both at their best when they boggled the audience by showing their close friendship with off-the-wall displays of affection (lots of hand grasping and one of them even got down on one knee to proclaim their love for the other). Torrence’s jovial demeanor was a fun contrast to Oka’s focused seriousness (which should play well in the movie, as well). O
nce they left the stage, it no longer became a question of whether Get Smart or The Love Guru would own their summer movie weekend (my advice to the Love Guru camp- you should consider pushing your movie back to Spring of ’09, at the earliest). Get Smart looks more like True Lies than Starsky and Hutch and will probably hit big.
Audience goodwill was high after Oka and Torrence left the stage. The lights dimmed once again and Kevin, the fearless, ageless and unflappable Starfest MC, announced we were about to see some Speed Racer footage. Well, it was the exact same 4-minute trailer that hit the web last week and you could feel the disappointment in the crowd. The lights came up, end of panel. No one from the movie came (not even that king of cool and promotional workhorse himself, Joel Silver). To say the least, following an enormously successful panel on Get Smart with the terribly underwhelming Speed Racer footage was akin to leaving a fantastic office party, getting on the elevator and finding it getting stuck mid-floor with a fellow passenger experiancing bad gas. If anyone at Starfest wasn’t excited about Speed Racer before, that panel isn’t going to change their minds.
Overall, no one who was there will likely forget the Get Smart footage and Q&A…and no one who was there will remember or care about the Speed Racer trailer.