By S. Jhoanna Robledo,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Action-packed kids' film fun, with a few sputters.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids learn a bit about cars and the sport of car racing.
Some deception, violence, and betrayal -- but since this is a classic good-vs.-evil story, the bad guys get their comeuppance in the end. Parents and children are portrayed as having a fairly healthy, supportive relationship.
Positive Role Models
The central family sticks together and Speed has tons of support from his race-car builder dad, encouraging mother, feisty girlfriend , cheerleading brother (Paulie Litt), and the family's pet chimp. Racer X is an enigmatic driver who recruits Speed to fight for justice.
Violence & Scariness
Plenty of fight scenes that mix kung-fu with regular brawling and gunplay. A gun is trained up a man's nose. Although there's not that much blood, there's lots of bone-crunching, head-banging, and the like (and the sound effects can be gruesome). Mob-like criminals threaten to throw one racer into a vat of piranhas after they beat him pretty brutally; later, a man's finger is eaten by the same fish (the tone of this scene could be scary for young kids). Car crashes aplenty, though no one is hurt badly.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple of kisses in the end. There are also some mild sexual innuendoes and some menacing suggestive comments about a young woman from a villain.
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Mostly tame ("holy moly," "hubba hubba"), aside from a few uses of "ass," a "damn," and a bleeped-out "s--t." Brief rude finger gesture.
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Products & Purchases
Some logos for Royalton Motors, cars, and cigars, but nothing excessive.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One character smokes, and another is given a box of cigars.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Speed Racer is a fast-paced, visually kinetic car racing movie -- which is the first family-targeted movie from Matrix creators Lilly and Lana Wachowski -- seems tailor-made for kids under 12 who've been raised on video games and anime adventures. The central family sticks together, which is nice to see, and there's hardly any swearing or sexual content. But some of the fairly frequent fight scenes are quite vicious, with tons of bone-crunching noises and other sounds (though there's not that much in the way of blood). One beating fairly early in the story is somewhat brutal (and includes the threat of a hand getting eaten by piranhas) and could upset young children. The basic good-vs.-evil story will entertain kids, but it may leave older teens and adults -- especially those who love the original '60s animated series -- indifferent.
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Based on 14 parent reviews
In my opinion very underrated movie and I think everyone should give it at least a try.
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What's the Story?
Based on a 1960s Japanese cartoon of the same name, SPEED RACER stars Emile Hirsch as Speed, the 18-year-old middle son in a car racing family who has, as his name suggests, a gift for speed. But all is not fun and games: Speed's older brother appears to have died in a horrible accident that may have been engineered by an evil conglomerate -- which starts gunning for him after he turns down their offer of a lucrative contract so long as he races for them. Luckily, Speed has tons of support, including his race-car builder dad (John Goodman), encouraging mother (Susan Sarandon), feisty girlfriend (Christina Ricci), cheerleading brother (Paulie Litt), and the family's pet chimp. And then there's Racer X (Matthew Fox), an enigmatic driver who recruits Speed to fight for justice.
Is It Any Good?
It's not entirely clear why the Wachowski sisters, the CGI geniuses behind the Matrix trilogy, didn't make this nto an animated feature. It ertainly feels like it wants to be one. In the best sense, it has that hyperbolic feel of a Road Runner cartoon, all whiz-bang and excitement (though, that said, the first act is pretty slow). The race scenes look as if they're taking place inside a flashing pinball machine -- all the more appealing for young fans. But parents shouldn't worry: Except for a few salty words and some painful fight scenes, it's squeaky clean. Perhaps a little too squeaky clean, in fact, for Matrix fans looking for an edge. There isn't one (only the Mach 5's turns are sharp).
Speed Racer also suffers from some of the pitfalls of many animated adventures -- it's light on storytelling (the underlying theme about sports being too beholden to large corporations barely gets out of the gate) and burdened with earnest, snoozy dialogue. The actors have so little to do -- clearly, emphasis was placed on the special effects -- that the movie almost doesn't need its big-name stars. And the mightily stylized look goes into overdrive, potentially leaving older audiences with a migraine. Some may find themselves longing for a good, old-fashioned race, one that takes place on a real track, to give them some non-computer-generated excitement.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about whether Speed Racer feels more like a live-action film or a cartoon. Why? What do you think the filmmakers wanted watching it to feel like?é
If family members have seen the Matrix movies, you can talk about what they have in common with Speed Racer, if anything.
Families can also discuss how the movie portrays Speed's family. How does it compare to families in other movies?
- In theaters: May 7, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: September 15, 2008
- Cast: Christina Ricci, Emile Hirsch, Susan Sarandon
- Directors: Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
- Inclusion Information: Bisexual actors
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Sports and Martial Arts, Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 129 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: sequences of action, some violence, language and brief smoking.
- Last updated: February 24, 2023
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