Speed Racer

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Speed Racer Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Action-packed kids' film fun, with a few sputters.
  • PG
  • 2008
  • 129 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 45 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 42 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids learn a bit about cars and the sport of car racing.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.

Sexy Stuff

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.


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.


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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymscotland October 18, 2018

Pretty Intense

I saw this movie when it first came out, I was 8, I couldn't watch it all the way through because I was terrified, to this day I still recall scenes from i... Continue reading
Adult Written byVirginia F. June 30, 2017

Profanity that not good for kids under 12

On Friday for our daycare we put on this movie and there was was cussing (but bleeped out but kids are smart) and hand gestures. For a daycare kids under the ag... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bylewistig51 February 11, 2021

For older families, really

This film is filled with action, adventure, and high speed thrills racing. It is very epic, fun, and cool for older families! Keep cautious on the ages of 9 and... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bymvb109 October 6, 2020

probably be 12 or older

the movie is fine except for some scenes with violence ( the guy in the truck almost getting eaten by piranhas ) and a few references kids under 13 might not ge... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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