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Movie Review

Speed Racer a.k.a. “Meteoro,” “Speed Racer: The IMAX Experience,” “Supîdo rêsâ”

MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of action, some violence and language

Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family, Teens, Adults
Action, Adventure, Family
2 hr. 9 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
May 9, 2008 (wide—3,600 theaters), also showing in IMAX theaters
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Featuring: Emile Hirsch (‘Alpha Dog’), Christina Ricci (‘Black Snake Moan’), Matthew Fox (TV's ‘Lost’), Susan Sarandon (‘Dead Man Walking’), Joon Park, John Goodman (‘Evan Almighty’), Scott Porter, Christian Oliver, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rain (Ji Hoon Jung), Benno Fürmann, Richard Roundtree, Paulie Litt (TV's ‘Hope and Faith’), Cosma Shiva Hagen, Karl Yune, Yu Nan, Melvil Poupaud, Kick Gurry (‘Spartan’), Nayo Wallace, Nicholas Elia, Roger Allam (‘The Queen,’ ‘V For Vendetta’), Peter Fernandez, Werner Daehn
Director: The Wachowski Brothers
Producer: Joel Silver, Grant Hill, Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski, David Lane Seltzer, Michael Lambert, Bruce Berman
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

“From the creators of ‘The Matrix’ trilogy comes a world built for speed.”

Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) is a young man who has always known he was destined to be a race car driver. Since the time he was little, all he has ever thought or cared about was racing. When this movie opens, a young Speed played by Nicholas Elia cannot concentrate at school, and even when he is taking a test, he is daydreaming about racing. When Mom Racer (Susan Sarandon) is called in for a meeting with Speed’s teacher, she seems to really understand that her son has a path already carved out for him that he is destined to follow. He has lived, breathed and dreamed of racing, since the time he was a baby. Speed’s hero is his older brother Rex (Scott Porter) who left the family racing team years ago and was killed in a racing accident. Speed’s life-long friend Trixie is played by Christina Ricci.

Speed is approached by a big corporation, Royalton, wanting to sponsor him, and they try luring him with the latest and greatest racing equipment and training facility that money can buy. Even Pop Racer played by John Goodman is impressed with the offer that Royalton has presented to Speed. However, when Speed rejects Royalton’s offer, things get ugly. Speed learns quickly that evil corporations rule the world, and this includes fixing races, since the time Speed was a child. When Racer X (Matthew Fox) and Inspector Detector (Benno Furmann) approach Speed about working with them to uncover corruption within the racing world, Speed does the right thing and joins forces with them to rid the world of evil. Of course, Speed Racer would not be able to accomplish all he does if his younger brother, Spritle (Paulie Litt) and sidekick monkey Chim-Chim did not stow away and pop up at opportune times.

While this movie is probably best enjoyed by boys and men 8 and up, it was entertaining for my whole family. If you have never watched a Speed Racer episode, you probably won’t get some of what transpires. “Speed Racer” is a Japanese anime from the late 60’s. This movie tries to capture some of the original cartoon feel. Much of this movie was shot in front of a green screen with CG animation built around it.


While much of the “violence” of this film is computer animated, there is an overabundance of that violence. Cars explode constantl,y and people are always fighting. One would be forced to believe that the life of a race car driver is part racing and part ninja. When Speed is young, he gets into a fist fight over his brother Rex. People are shown being beaten. A man is shown with a bloody face and lip. A bloody piece of meat is shown being fed to piranhas. They try to force a man’s hand into the fish tank. Another man is forced to put his finger in a hole in the tank to stop it up, and you are led to believe the piranhas eat his finger to the bone as blood is floating to the top of the tank. There is heavy use of machine guns. Ninjas sneak into the racers’ rooms to try to kill them. Two major fight scenes involve the whole Racer family against the bad guys.

This movie has a PG rating, and they really pushed that rating. The language was much more than I have come to expect from a PG movie. There is repeated use of a-s-s. Subtitles on a cartoon read, “I will eat your soul” and other such phrases. Use of hell, damn, Holy sh--, Oh my G-d, and Jesus’ name taken in vain.

Other Objectionable Content: Many women are shown in low cut dresses. Spritle flips a man off. (While this is shown briefly, and even my own family can’t agree whether it happened or not, even if it didn’t happen, the implication was still there). Several women are shown scantily clad from the back. Speed goes to Inspiration Point with Trixie, but Spritle pops up before they can actually kiss. At the end of the movie, Speed kisses Trixie.

Speed wants to compete in the race that Rex was killed in. He knows his parents will never allow it, so he lies to them. Trixie helps him in this endeavor by agreeing to say that they are going on a ski trip.

On a spiritual level, there is talk of racing being a religion. Speed says the Racer team is like a religion, with the major sponsors being the Devil. Another man says, “This is my religion,” when talking of money and power.


The devotion and love the Racer family has for one another is rarely seen today in movies. Mom Racer is proud of Speed, and she openly shows it. Pop’s only regret in life is that he allowed Rex to leave the house believing he couldn’t ever come back. He is not going to make that same mistake with Speed. Pop, also, says he married his best friend.

While there are many things you could discuss with your family after this film, probably the best discussion would be “What is religion?” Obviously, religion is man’s attempt to reach God. Some men think they become like God through money or power. For others it is through something they really believe in, like racing or family. But none of us can reach God. God reached down and met us through His son, Jesus Christ.

Have you ever watched a movie and couldn’t decide if you really liked it or really hated it? “Speed Racer” was that movie for me. While there were parts that were funny and entertaining, much of the movie was so over the top bizarre that I sat there and wondered what I was watching. The original “Speed Racer” cartoon was Japanese with English dubbing. Obviously, their mouth movements did not match up with the words. This was part of the “fun” of watching the cartoon. While watching this, I got a sense that they were trying to create the cartoon with real people and maybe they should have stuck with just making a cartoon.

Would I recommend this movie? Most the time, I leave a movie and have an immediate answer to that question. I walked out of the movie theater and pondered it. I decided to sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning. Now, 12 hours after viewing the movie, I am no closer to a definite answer then I was last night. However, you come to the site for an answer, and I must give you one. I review a movie based on my impressions, and I avoid hearing what other reviewers thought or felt, until after I am done writing my review. With that said, I feel many children will be frightened by the very real violence; even my 2 older sons, 18 and 20 who eagerly anticipated this movie, thought the violence was too much for a PG movie. I would recommend this movie for boys or girls over the age of 8 who think that “Speed Racer” is awesome.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This movie was a blast—it's an amazing ride. I saw it with my 8 year old son and we both really enjoyed it. It's pure entertainment at its best. It's fun, light hearted, exciting, scary, funny, visually spectacular, creative and appropriate for most young people if they have seen action movies with no ill effects. The story line is very engrossing and rivets you to the screen, it moves quick, your drawn into the characters and if your looking to put your brain on hold for a few hours and have some fun this movie will not disappoint. The creativity that went into this movie from beginning to end is nothing short of incredible. I'm planning on going back with some of my older teenage children to see it again.

Having said all that you should be aware there is some corrupt language used, not to much just enough to be annoying, 1 sh** 1 a** and the Lord’s name is used inappropriately once. There is also a very quick shot of a young boy using his middle finger in a rude gesture, it is shown for a second and it is sad to see in a family movie. You wonder why the producers couldn't have left those offensive elements out, if they had this movie would be much better than average, as it stands depending on your sensitivity to the above mentioned offenses be careful who you take.

This film may be to scary for children under 7 or 8 if they get frightened easily. All in all you'll have to let the Lord lead you on this one. As someone who enjoys sci-fi and action movies this ranks as one of my favorites, it is a bit childish and it's geared for younger audiences but there is enough going on for adults to more than keep your interest. See you in Eternity.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Joe Granitelli, age 53
Positive—As a person of no religious affiliation, this movie appealed to me greatly, not because of the awesome visuals, but because of the ideas of family values and so faithfully staying true to a dream or goal of yours, like racing. The family values really connected with me, as I know that the love and happiness of a family is a beautiful and wonderful thing for a child, and to see the family supporting Speed Racer no matter how bad things got, was a wonderful sight that really is rare to see these days. It is a story about a boy becoming a man, who learns and grows from his friends and his racing dream and does the right thing, but will always remain the parents’ young son no matter what. I realized after seeing this movie just how proud and honored I was to have 2 wonderful, loving parents who wanted nothing more than to see me happy. I could see how these family values could relate to the commandment about honoring your mother and father.

I admit, the visual effects in this movie are certainly unique, but do their best to remain true to the original cartoon's vision. While critics have this movie just going right over their heads, the movie is being honored for achieving so many visual and technical landmarks, and represents a style of film-making that could change the way movies are presented.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Austin Killey, age 21
Positive—My family really enjoyed Speed Racer. It was funny and the effects in the movie were amazing. This is one movie that truly needs to be seen in the theater to get the full experience. I would definitely recommend this movie. As far as potentially offensive material is concerned, the reviewer did a good job of summarizing those instances in his review. My family was not offended by the material mentioned, but someone more sensitive possibly could be.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—John, age 36
Positive—I was an avid Speed Racer fan as a young boy and I have been waiting a long, long time to see this movie come to the big screen. I was a little apprehensive as to the outcome with the Warchowski Brothers being involved, but they did the story line right and kept this a very clean movie, suitable for all ages. The special effects were excellent and the style the film was shot in was very vibrant and unique. I think this would have been even better in 3D.

Ok, now for the negatives: There was use of curse words like S&#!, D!@#, and other mild ones; Racer X used the name Jesus in a vain way; Spritle gives the finger to Mr. Royalton, Speed says he wants to pay back those that hurt his family with the same punishment (evil with evil), Speed, with the aid of Trixie, agrees to deceive parents and put himself in harms way (but as all Hollywood fables go, no one ever gets hurt…), Trixie dresses very scantily and implies strong desire for Speed, there is moderate thematic violence, but it seems more carnival in nature with the special effects and imagery. Trixie solves her problems and conflicts with violence, Gun violence with direct conflict shooting at Speed.

The positives: The father and mother figures are shown in a good light; the winners circle beverage of choice for Speed is milk; they show unity of family first over money; the bad guys all get their comeuppance; none of the family partake in any vices; trust and love is honored in the home; Racer X's departure from the family is done without showing harsh conflict.

All in all, this film has a very good moral message, (much better than Iron Man), it's touching and you really want to cheer Speed on in the races!

Spritle (played by Paulie Litt) steals every seen he is in—perfect cast match. For a Hollywood movie, coming from the creators of the Matrix, this film if very family-friendly and is well worth the price to see it on the big screen—enjoy!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Frank D., age 45
Positive—This movie was a breath-taking cinematic view. The way the movie was structured was entirely different than any other movie I've ever seen. Also, while the colors are magnificent and at times chaotic, they never appear dizzying, which to me was a pleasant surprise. The movie was also a lot deeper than I was expecting, with the value of family over careers or money being stressed. Other than cars getting blown up, which, due to CGI effects took some of the shock away, there were several fight scenes that might frighten younger children, although they were done in a mostly comical fashion.

All in all, there were really only three or four points in the film that I would caution parents about. One is where Speed Racer's younger brother flips someone off, although truth be told it was most deserved. Near the end a commentator says “Holy Sh--” with the ending bleeped out, and there's a scene in a truck where a guy is getting beat up by a mob and almost tossed into a piranha tank, where the piranhas are shown to have devoured a leg of meat in seconds. Thus, I'd probably advise parents to only show this to kids 10+, or at least view the movie first, but I think, out of all the movies out there, this is definitely one of the better ones and for older audiences, will be a truly enjoyable viewing experience.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Rachel Jaeger, age 19
Positive—My brother and I went and saw this opening night last night. I can honestly say I was slightly disappointed that the theatre wasn't packed last night, unlike our previous opening night viewing of Iron Man! However, that did not alter my judgment upon the movie what-so-ever. I did go into this film with reviews on the negative side and I try not to let that alter my judgment either. I thought this movie was GREAT!! The only downfall was that I do think it was a little too long, they could have shaved about 30 min. off the film and it would have been fine. I do have to say that cast was GREAT, there were some objectionable material in there, a far to many curse words for a PG rated film and the little bother does give someone “the finger.” Other than that, the film was GREAT!! The special effects with the racing and all that was just awesome to see on the big screen.

I really hate that this received bad reviews and a lot of people are hoping it will fail, but my bother and I really, really enjoyed it. I thought it paid great tribute to the cartoon and it also had tributes to the japanese culture, since the cartoon was brought over from Japan.

Parents, just be aware of the language and the “bird” scene, other than that, a great action family flick!! Enjoy!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Ben, age 25
Positive—I took my grandson's to see this movie tonight because the boys love race cars and I thought because of the movie's PG rating it should be pretty tame. I was mortified as well as the rest of the audience who was watching in the theater when the young man made a very offensive gesture in the movie. My five year old grandson noticed right away and asked several questions. The movie would have been excellent in my opinion if they would have left that and the occasional swear word out. Great film about doing what is right and standing by your family.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Linda Clark, age 43
Neutral—Went to see this 2 nights ago and had to wait just a little before doing this. I gave this an offensive and neutral for 2 reasons. #1 this was a PG movie and with all the violence and cursing in it I was offended. #2 this was not your old cartoon series, violent is not the word for it. My wife and I took 2 13 year old girls to see this and if I had known how much violence and language were in it we would have opted for the Chronicles Of Narnia. Just to blow my own horn here but it seems that Hollywood is making movies more and more raunchy every day. There was no need for the types of things that we saw in this movie. And you can pretty much bet that there are NO Christians on board the movie rating systems board and if so they have VERY lax scruples. I am sorry but this will not be added to my movie collection when it comes out on DVD!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Larry Barber, age 45
Neutral—I found the movie to be a little too over the line for a PG rating. There was an excessive amount of gun handling and shooting. I heard every parent in the theatre gasp at the un-expected middle finger flip on Spridles behalf. I was overly excited and greatly anticipated this movie, as was my six year old son who has been a fan of the cartoon since he learned to play with toy cars. I was disappointed and felt let down after digesting the violent and extremely aggressive content of the movie. I don’t recommend this movie for small impressionable children.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Melissa, age 25
Neutral—I found the movie to be a little too over the line for a PG rating. There was an excessive amount of gun handling and shooting. I heard every parent in the theatre gasp at the un-expected middle finger flip on Spridles behalf. I was overly excited and greatly anticipated this movie, as was my six year old son who has been a fan of the cartoon since he learned to play with toy cars. I was disappointed and felt let down after digesting the violent and extremely aggressive content of the movie. I don't recommend this movie for small impressionable children.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Melissa, age 25
Negative—I took my sons to see Speed Racer this past weekend. They are 10 and 7. I was very excited to see this movie. I grow up watching Speed Racer on TV. And even now both of my boys enjoy watching my dvd of the old Speed Racer. So I was expecting a great movie. Granted the special effects where great and the car racing was really cool. But as a parent I felt blindsided. I was expecting this movie to be kid friendly. This movie is being sold as a kid's film. What bothers me the most is that the film makers again cannot make a movie that has no profanity in it. I was really disappointed in this. Why cannot Hollywood make a movie that is totally free of profanity? The other thing in the move that I felt was highly offensive was Spiddle giving the middle finger to the bad guy. I warn parents to think twice about this movie for younger kids. This is very sad for us that grow up watching Speed Racer as kids.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kevin Tucker, age 38
Neutral—I took my family to see this movie, not sure of what to expect. In many regards, I was very pleasantly surprised, but in other respects, the surprises were not pleasant in the least. The Racer family's love for each other was wonderful to see. Pops was portrayed as a moral man, supportive of his son and someone with whom the children were mostly respectful. Speed's relationship with his mother was touching and tender, and perhaps illustrative of the ideal mom: loving, caring and supportive.

Speed is somewhat obsessed with racing, as might be expected, but when he has the chance to sellout for big money, he chooses what is best for his family. Rex, Speed's older brother, sacrificed his identity and his life to protect his family from the evil corporations that rule the world of racing.

Speed's younger brother and his monkey provided the majority of offensive material. My wife and I were shocked, literally, to see the preteen boy “giving the finger” to someone in the film. (Yes, you saw it right.) This is waaaay over the top for a PG film, and completely and totally unnecessary for the film's sake. The monkey throws what appears to be feces as well—again, not needed.

There's a fair amount of foul language, and the two younger Racer boys seem to think little of lying to their parents and “sneaking off” in disobedience. Many of the women, including Trixie, wear somewhat scant clothing. (Film shots tended to emphasize these moments, just to make sure we noticed.) Violence is all throughout the movie: however escape “bubbles” keep the drivers alive—in one instance a parachute serves this purpose.

The discussions of “religion” are significant in that they provide the motivation for the different entities. God in the proper sense is never mentioned, though the devil is. Taken in the context of this fictional world, this was not offensive.

While I might recommend the movie for its wonderful portrayal of family, my recommendation is significantly tempered by the offensive content. I would say use caution, especially with younger children—since the filmmakers used the youngest character to model the most inappropriate of these behaviors.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Steve Henderson, age 43
Neutral—The movie was very fast-paced. I thought they did a good job with the computer animated graphics. There was a bit more violence than I am comfortable with although none of it was really graphic. I took my 5 and 7 year olds and at one point I thought I was in trouble but the violence didn't escalate as I feared.

The moral of the story is overcoming corporate corruption and family values. Not too bad of a movie but I can't rate it more than average.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Shane Linder, age 38
Negative—After about an hour of watching this movie, my daughter and I decided we'd had enough. How could the raters rate this movie PG? Even though PG stands for Parental Guidance needed, the violence, the negative undertone, the sultry sexiness of the women, the language, the vengeance, the general lack of Christian standards, a little boy flipping off an adult as an elevator door closes—all makes me disappointed that PG has lost its innocence and is making a downward spiral, joining PG-13 and R as secular movies NOT to see. This avant-garde film was so “creative” that its transitionary scenes lost me. To be honest, we do not need movies that reflect the culture. We need movies that can bring our culture back to our Christian roots. We have come a long way, baby, and it ain't good. We had a general yucky feeling as we exited the theater and I'm sorry we considered this one.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Vic Zarley, age 60
Negative—Should be at least PG-13. Positive: As an adult “not bringing my kid” I thought it was a fun action flick. Lots of color and futuristic type stuff with a good bit of humor. It's definitely not slow! Our 10yr old says “neat graphics and the monkey was funny.” We took our 10yr old to this movie and we were shocked and very disappointed.

Negative: Cursing—“sh*t, *ss, d*mn,” and 10-12 year old child flips the middle finger
Emotionally heavy—death (not shown), cheating, extortion, threatening, back-stabbing
Violence—Way violent! Besides the aggressive driving with crashes, explosions, falling off of cliffs, cheating with violent mechanical devices that knocks out the competition, etc. There was a ton of fighting. Gun fights, fist fights, a guy gets tied up, beaten up and bloodied, they come a hair shy of putting his hand in a piranha tank and then one of the bad guys gets his finger gnawed off by the fish (not shown, but he's screaming and blood is spattering).

Gross—Well, a lot of stuff falls in this category. Monkey throws wet poo at bad guys face and he smears it off. Nasty.
Explicit—Low cut and high cut dresses and in one scene you see a female in her bra before she zips up her race suit. Playboy Bunny type outfits at events.

Disturbing—Again, lots of stuff. *Spoiler* 'Speed Racer's older brother Rex fakes his own death to get away from bad guys and to protect his family and he allows his family to go through the emotions of his death. He goes to doctors and has his face altered. Then, at the end when the bad guys are dealt with you would think he would finally put his family out of their misery by letting them know he was alive, but he doesn't. As a parent, that is uncool.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Angela, age 36
Comments from young people
Neutral—I rented this movie with my friend recently and was a little disappointed. I have never seen the original cartoon, I only knew about it. But my friend and I figured it would be cute, especially since it was rated PG. Well, I did enjoy the movie very much, but what disappointed me was all the language. This movie is definitely aimed toward families, and I thought it should have been rated PG-13. I wouldn't let younger kids see it, because of the language. I would love to own it or even recommend it, but they ruined it with all the profanity. So it depends on how much language you are willing to put up with.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Sarah, age 17 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I have not viewed this movie but did like “Speed Racer” as a child (even though I am a girl). I will not take my two boys 8 and 9 who want to see it because of the bad language… why would they have bad language in a film directed toward children? I don't understand, but I will not support it!…
—Janise, age 41