Speed Racer is the tale of a young and brilliant racing driver. When corruption in the racing leagues costs his brother his life, he must team up with the police and the mysterious Racer X to bring an end to the corruption and criminal activities. Inspired by the cartoon series.
ActorsStarring: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox, Susan Sarandon, Scott Porter, John Goodman, Ariel Winter, Nicholas Elia, Hiroyuki Sanada, Art LaFleur, Richard Roundtree, Togo Igawa, Nan Yu, Cosma Shiva Hagen, Roger Allam, Nayo Wallace, Rain, Moritz Bleibtreu, Benno Fürmann, Ralph Herforth, Jana Pallaske, Megan Gay, Yuriri Naka, Narges Rashidi, Fang Yu, Kick Gurry
Speed Racer the film does a fantastic job capturing the feel of Speed Racer the cartoon. Originally broadcast in the late 60’s, the series also gained fame in the 90’s via reruns on MTV. I watched those reruns in the 90’s, a friend recommended the movie, and I will watch anything with John Goodman in it, so I gave this film a shot. Despite box office failings, Speed Racer was a very enjoyable family film. The fun-filled wacky, campy humor of the original show is retained and at the same time updated for modern audiences.
The cast of characters remains largely the same from the original Speed Racer cartoon. The film focuses on the Racer family, particularly the titular Speed Racer. Speed has a strong sense of justice matched by loyalty to his family and racing skills. He is young, but races for what he believes in rather than the greed that has corrupted other racers. Supported by the rest of the Racer family, Speed manages to come out ahead both on and off the race track. His family’s characterization is classic as well, with Spirtle (younger brother) causing trouble with mischief and Pops supporting his son any way he can. Speed’s girlfriend Trixie retains her role as a powerful female figure instead of a damsel in distress. And of course, Racer X is as mysterious and cool as the show always portrayed him.
Now you cannot talk about Speed Racer without mentioning the races. For most of the film, these races take place on huge futuristic tracks that look sponsored by Hot Wheels. One exception is a cross-country race, which is a staple from classic racing cartoons. Speed’s car, the Mach 5, is equipped with so many gadgets it would put James Bond’s rides to shame. The race scenes in Speed Racer are nothing short of epic. No expense was spared on effects to transition the zany races of the cartoon to the big screen.
If you like the Speed Racer cartoon and/or family movies, you will enjoy the Speed Racer film. If you are iffy on the film, watch a few episodes of the cartoon to get a feel for it. Much like the real sport of racing, this movie is designed to do one thing: entertain. Is the plot extravagant? No. Are the characters unforgettable? No. But for a PG-rated family film filled with racing, fighting, and other action, Speed Racer wins first place.