A young racer gets off the bus, heading to his first day of school: but it’s not just any school, it’s a racing school. As you may well expect, this school (and this story) is basically a large tribute to the original Speed Racer. Why the original Speed Racer? Because now there is a new one, the Next Generation if you will. This new racer is named “Speed,” which in this world is like naming your kid “Einstein.” So this new racer meets the obligatory rivals. One is the son of Speed Racer, named X, twins, and the other is the spoiled daughter of a corporate magnate.
Speed arrives at racing school without a car, but he happens to be an orphan who inherited a red bandana and a car key. The conclusions you can draw from that are pretty obvious. He meets his roommate, a fan of the original Speed Racer named Connor–although fanatic would be a better description then fan for him. He also happens to be a mechanic. He also meets Lucy, who finds the quickest route to any place.
The movie has the obligatory races and action that goes with them. Speed learns that he is the son of Speed Racer and the brother of the current Racer X. He finds the Mach 5, only to have destroyed it in a race and he has to rebuild it as the Mach 6. He has earned the ire of Zile Zazic with the new Mach 6. Speed must contend with his fellow students and outsiders to reach his dream of being the best racer.
As someone who grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, this movie does not disappoint. It is not for the traditional violent anime fan, but rather for someone looking to recapture the mystique of the first Speed Racer. There are a lot of references to the old Speed Racer show that fans will recognize. For people who did not watch the old Speed Racer, they can still enjoy it and follow the story. The races are the crazy over-the-top races one would expect; the movie even contains some of Speed’s classic moves.
The comedy is definitely in the juvenile range of humor. A robotic monkey steals things and eats pieces of cars. There are the usual pratfalls and comedic silliness. A few lines may release a guffaw every now and then. The comedy does nothing to take away from the action of the story, but reminds the audience that this is not a super-serious movie.
The action is also for a younger crowd. The races are not exactly harrowing, but they are fun for absurd and dangerous objects. The gadgets on the cars used for malice definitely have that impractical-but-still-cool-to-watch edge. One would not be able to fault this movie for lack of comedy or action.
With the comedy and action, this is really best watched as a family. This would not be normal fare for an anime fan, but if you have a child and want to watch something you both will enjoy, it would be this movie. The movie moves at a fast pace, which can at times seem frantic, but would keep a child engaged. The slapstick humor will definitely touch the funny bone of a kid. This movie may not be for the hardcore anime fan, but it certainly is for a family that enjoys Speed Racer.
Thanks to Lionsgate Entertainment and M80 for sending us a review copy.