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George Lopez Behind Live-Action Speedy Gonzales Movie

Speedy GonzalesHollywood has found yet another animated animal to bring into the “real world” for a feature film. Underdog was released a couple years back and Yogi Bear should be out this December. Now Speedy Gonzales is getting the treatment.

Part of the Looney Tunes stable of characters, Speedy Gonzales debuted in a cartoon short in 1953. Created by Robert McKimson, the character didn’t really catch on until a couple years later when Friz Freleng and Hawley Pratt redesigned the character. The fast rodent was pitted up against Sylvester the Cat and the animated short won an Academy Award.

Voiced by Mel Blanc, Speedy Gonzales remained an audience favorite for many years, particularly in Latin America. He has been featured in numerous, shorts, movies, and TV shows. In 1981, the character even co-headlined in a Saturday morning program called The Sylvester & Tweety, Daffy & Speedy Show.

In the late 1990s, the Speedy and his cartoons came under criticism from various groups for depicting racial stereotypes. The cartoons were pulled from the airwaves until, several years later, other groups of viewers petitioned to have the shorts reinstated.

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New Line has just announced that they’re now working on a live-action movie revolving around a CGI version of the classic character. To head off potential race criticisms, the movie will have a modern sensibility and is being produced by Latino comic George Lopez, Anne Lopez and Lynette Ramirez for George Lopez Presents, along with producer Jerry Weintraub, Tracy Ryerson and Jill Arthur.

Anne Lopez tells THR, “We wanted to make sure that it was not the Speedy of the 1950s — the racist Speedy. Speedy’s going to be a misunderstood boy who comes from a family that works in a very meticulous setting, and he’s a little too fast for what they do. He makes a mess of that. So he has to go out in the world to find what he’s good at.” He eventually befriends a “gun-shy race-car driver.”

Since Blanc’s death in 1989, the character has been voiced by Joe Alaskey, Eric Goldberg and, most frequently, by Bob Bergen (who also often voices Porky Pig). In the new movie, Speedy’s voice will sound a lot more like George Lopez since he’s being tapped for the role.

The project is still in the early stages so a release date and further casting details aren’t available as yet.

What do you think? Does this movie interest you or would you prefer to see a more traditional Speedy Gonzales project?

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

WolvenSpectre February 26, 2010 at 4:31 am

It was always my understanding that the real issues with Speedy Gonzales was more to do with his friend Slowpoke Rodriguez and the fact that many of the other mice were lethargic and in the Southern US there was a negative cultural stereotype of Latin Americans, Mexicans, African Americans, and First Nations (American Indians) as being slow and lazy. Then the stereotype of being slow and/or lazy was being treated as a racial epithet in its own right.

There were some things about the cartoons that were unintentionally hitting the nerves of people. People have to remember that there are 2 factors that they aren’t taking into account.

First of all, almost all of the characters in the cartoons of that age were caricatures and hyperbole, and were originally intended for people in there late teens to adults. These were supposedly people who were old enough to tell what was an exaggeration, what was satire, and what was making fun of things that were stereotypes In a time when racists were always talking about how slow, stupid and lazy Hispanic people were here was a heroic character that disproved that and then was friendly and outgoing. Then when they showed his family, which you expected to be hyper like him, they were slow, but not because they were stupid or lazy, but because they were patient and methodical.

The second thing you have to consider is these animators, writers and performers were largely men and women who had been doing MUCH MUCH darker stereotyping when they were making humorous propaganda films for adults during WWII. Compared to the films they made back then this was respectful and nothing insulting. Try looking at their WWII films if you can find them online. Today they would get banned and blackballed for some of that stuff.

In short, I just hope they don’t take too much of the spirit out of old Speedy. I think they world could use the energy and good humour today.

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