"Candy-Colored Popcorn Fantasy"
SPEED RACER starts off with a bang, slows down around the end of the first lap, but picks up speed for a grand, exciting finish.
The movie opens by intercutting Speed Racer’s idolization of his older brother, Rex, with Speed preparing for and running a race as a young driver himself. The flashback shows how Rex tried to fight the big racing corporations who tried to bomb their father’s independent shop, including Speed himself. The brother angrily leaves home to fight the evildoers on their own turf, but their father, Pops, disowns him. Rex is killed in a race, and now Speed Racer is aiming to break his brother’s record on one track, but lets his foot off the pedal at the last moment, to honor Rex’s memory.
The maniacal owner of Royalton Industries tries to enlist Speed as one of his drivers. When Speed turns him down, Royalton shows Speed that he and other racing tycoons are fixing the biggest races in order to boost profits. He threatens to prevent Speed from ever crossing another finish line.
Like his brother before him, Speed decides to beat Royalton at his own game. With help from his girlfriend Trixie, Speed teams up with his rival, the mysterious Racer X, and a Japanese driver to run The Crucible, the death-defying road rally that claimed his brother’s life. A terrible betrayal forces Speed to drive in the pinnacle event of the World Racing League, the Grand Prix. Royalton has placed a million dollar bounty, however, on the driver who takes Speed Racer out of the business – forever.
SPEED RACER is a wildly exhilarating, delightful ride at the cinema. Filmed in eye-popping Technicolor, the photography is rich with visually stunning state-of-the-art computer graphics. The race scenes are full of speeding cars racing around curved tracks, mountains and deserts. The races are like speeding bumper cars. Eventually, Speed has to install all sorts of protective devices on his Mach 5 to stop the vicious tactics of the other racers employed by the evil Royalton.
Though it slows down in the second half of the first act, the plot soon picks up speed in the thrillingly awesome competition during the Crucible race and never stops until the exciting finish. The story and characters seldom get overwhelmed by the movie’s special effects. Children will not only enjoy the racing action but also the comic antics of Speed’s younger brother Spritle and the family’s pet chimpanzee Chim-Chim.
The movie tells a positive story of good overcoming evil. The second half also contains several heartwarming, touching moments between Speed Racer and his parents. The movie extols family and teamwork and presents parents as a potentially positive force in their children’s lives. It also shows heroic characters fighting corruption in society.
That said, SPEED RACER contains some intense action sequences. There are also some shots of women in low-cut dresses. In one scene, Speed and Trixie are sitting alone in his car with Trixie in a low-cut dress. She tries to get Speed interested in romance by asking him two or three times, “Do you like this?” Of course, Speed and Trixie are interrupted by Spritle and Chim-Chim, who have hidden in Speed’s trunk. That’s pretty much the extent of any sexual innuendo in this PG-rated movie, which also contains a few relatively light obscenities, one strong profanity using Jesus, seven light profanities, and young boy gives bad man the finger. Furthermore, there are some Romantic aspects to the movie’s worldview.
Thus, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution and parental guidance for older children for this vivid, candy-colored pop fantasy.
(BB, PP, Ro, Cap, LL, VV, S, N, D, M) Ultimately strong moral worldview with a strong positive view of Americans in a story about good overcoming corruption and conquering evil that also extols family, with parents playing a positive role in their children’s lives, plus some Romantic elements and possible anti-capitalist content where corporate racing moguls are seen as corrupt, but this is overcome by the movie’s positive presentation of a small business owner, who is the protagonist’s father, and a message that extols merit being rewarded in society through competition; five or six obscenities (including one possible “s” word), one strong profanity using Jesus, seven light profanities, young boy gives bad man the finger, plus a TV feed bleeps an obscenity; strong action violence, some of it intense, includes cars crashing and exploding, race cars skid around treacherous curves and ramps, martial arts fighting, race cars bump into one another, drivers try to deliberately cause other cars to crash and hero defends himself from such cheating, man punched, death threats; no sex scenes but sultry women in race car settings, big kiss at end of race and hero sits in car with his snugly dressed girlfriend who asks him repeatedly “Do you like this?” (meaning perhaps romance and having a girlfriend, but there is a slight uncomfortable innuendo in her question); brief upper male nudity and some female cleavage and women in short skirts; no alcohol; no smoking but a racer is drugged so he can’t drive; and, heroes betrayed, corruption in sport, villainous race car drivers cheat, and lying.
SPEED RACER is an exhilarating live-action version of the old TV cartoon, starring Emile Hirsch in the iconic title role. The death of Speed’s brother in a racing accident has left Speed with a legacy to fulfill. The maniacal owner of Royalton Industries tries to enlist Speed as one of his drivers. When Speed turns him down, Royalton shows Speed that he and other racing tycoons are fixing the biggest races to boost profits. He threatens to prevent Speed from ever crossing another finish line. Speed joins forces with his rival, the mysterious Racer X, who is also battling corruption in the racing business. Together, they battle the corrupt tycoon and his devious minions.
SPEED RACER is a wildly exhilarating, delightful ride. Filmed in eye-popping Technicolor, the photography is rich with visually stunning state-of-the-art computer graphics. The race scenes are full of pumped-up action. The story tells a tale of good overcoming corruption and evil and positive family values, with true merit ultimately being rewarded. There are some obscenities, profanities and very light sexual innuendo, which require caution for older children. For more information about SPEED RACER, please visit movieguide.org.