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Movie Review: Speed Racer

Speed Racer: One Long Hangover

My eyeballs hurt. My head hurts. I feel tired. Watching Speed Racer has me feeling all the nastiness of a hangover but without any of the hard-partying fun. I tried coming up with other analogies for the experience of seeing this nauseating, candy-colored whirlpool of a movie, with most of my attempts having to do with sugar, dizziness and a resultant sad, empty feeling, but it appears that most other reviews have already done the legwork in this regard.

Some of the descriptions with which I most heartily agree include the following:

  • From MSNBC's Alonso Duralde:
    "Imagine someone pouring hot, melted Starburst candies into your corneas, and you just begin to approximate the experience of Speed Racer, an ice-cream headache of a movie."
  • From The New Yorker's Anthony Lane:
    "The entire movie, indeed, is what Tom Wolfe would call a Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, complete with achingly blue skies, customized deserts, fantastical mountains, and everything from Goodman’s shirt to Ricci’s fingernails daubed in lollipop hues; it makes the world of Pee-wee Herman look like Anselm Kiefer. So how did this rainbow of velocity end up bleached of fun?"
  • From Film Journal International's Frank Lovece:
    "It's all a bombastic mishmash that makes you feel like you've been stuffed inside a kaleidoscope and shaken for two hours."
  • From The New York Observer's Rex Reed:
    "I can sit through just about anything, but I draw the line at two hours and 15 minutes of fuchsia vomit. To suffer through this kind of hell, movie critics deserve combat pay."
  • And my very favorite, from New York Magazine's David Edelstein:
    "The film is like a nightmare in which you’re trapped in an arcade with screens on all sides and no eyelids."

So, you're probably getting the picture, but still,


Speed Racer tells a fairly convoluted story of greed, the evils of capitalism, family and car racing. Speed is a boy (played by Emile Hirsch) whose sole interest is driving a race car. He idolized his brother Rex until Rex apparently brought shame to the sport and died in a fiery crash. Now Speed loyally races for his father's motor company and he ignites the rage of crazy corporate tycoon Royalton (Roger Allam) when he refuses to race for the Royalton company. Royalton is a shady organization that forces its racers to cheat and demolishes anyone who threatens to beat one of their own, since a Royalton loss would bring down Royalton stock value. See? There is a whole subplot about stocks! I'm not even a kid and I was so bored by so much of this film.

The performances are more or less fine (I think?) given the situation, though the actors often appear to be cracking under the immense strain to breathe real life into a world that literally doesn't exist around them. Clocking in at two hours and 15 minutes, this assault on the senses is way too long to hold the brief attention span of a child, and it's frankly just not enjoyable for adults. So, aside from the visuals (which are cool for about twenty minutes, but what to do with the last 115?), I frankly can't recommend seeing this movie. There's just no point.

To see the trailer and more videos from Speed Racer, check out

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

non_ca non_ca 9 years
i too, feel like the odd one out, rivrchild, cos i absolutely LOVED the movie!!!!
rivrchild rivrchild 9 years
haha well I must be 12 years old because I LOVED it! And I loved it for all the reasons that buzz here and everyone else hates it. The visuals were out of this world, I felt like a kid all over again in this movie. I never saw the cartoon series, it was before my time. But I also think Emile Hirsch is an incredible actor to be able to infuse so much emotion into his performance without it seeming over the top or cheesy. I knew the movie wasn't going to offer a great plot, story, or deep multi-dimensional characters. I went for the visuals and was surprised to enjoy more than that in the end. Sure, the Wachowski bros. are mostly just showing off, but I don't care because it looks awesome to me! If we're going to continue the cartoon turned live action film, they should next make a Jem and the Holograms movie. I think those kinds of spectacular colors and effects would better suit that series. Although good luck trying to get any kind of interesting feature length story/plotline out of that series. But at least it would look "outrageous"!!
reesiekitty reesiekitty 9 years
Ok, I thought it was fun, lol. My 8 year old son loved it and had no trouble following the convoluted ( yet boring) plot points. I really feel like at this point, the W Bros. have so much money, time, etc. they can just do whatever they want. I think this was just sort of a fun exercise for them in futuristic film editing, unending bright color and trying to reinvent an old cartoon they liked. It wasn't the best movie ever, but I think that the techniquies they used were interesting.
Jenny86 Jenny86 9 years
Oh, come on. It's not that bad! I watched recently and LOVED IT. Definitely not better than Iron Man, but it's pretty much up there. That's a bit harsh, Buzz!
nomerz nomerz 9 years
it's an ok movie ... but too long and too much.
fashion4ward fashion4ward 9 years
It was pretty cool. I only went to see it because of Emile, but was really entertained by the effects.
orangeparty orangeparty 9 years
I loved it, maybe it's because it resembles my mind. I also love me some Emile, so that was a plus too.
tweet-hotpants tweet-hotpants 9 years
ugh my husband wants to see this in IMAX too. i had no desire BEFORE i read these reviews. now i really don't want to!
karisaamy karisaamy 9 years
I am so glad that my husband doesn't want to see this one.
azulsky azulsky 9 years
I enjoyed it was a fun movie. I thought I was going to hate it because of the candy color visuals from the trailers. IMO the visuals made it seem more cartoon like, but I'm a Speed Racer fan and it stuck to the original premise of the original show. All the children in the theater seem to love it especially Spritle and Chim Chim and clapped at the end. It does take a while to get into the action of racing but overall it was a cute film.
JenBrett JenBrett 9 years
Anyone remember years ago when Pokemon caused seizures? Watch at your own risk I guess. Haven't seen it but I did just get back from Iron Man, loved it!
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
I like the New York Observer's review. It really gets the point across.
Lyv Lyv 9 years
Seriously? Damn, I've been looking forward to this movie since last year. D: Oh well. I've been known to enjoy flicks everyone else hated.
Manny654 Manny654 9 years
As a fan of the original, it didn't depart from it very much-it was meant to be over-the-top. However I will agree, as someone with a small epilepsy problem this was way too much. I loved my brother's assessment: "Fun, but it looked like somebody threw up a bag of skittles"
radarkitty radarkitty 9 years
Just kidding of course! ;)
radarkitty radarkitty 9 years
:rotfl: Buzz. That or Jagermeister!
chiquita29 chiquita29 9 years
My mother & I are going to take my 5 year old son to see this tomorrow (he's been asking for weeks!). I hope we're able to enjoy this somewhat.
ShannonSoCrazy ShannonSoCrazy 9 years
I think it looks neat.
Brittfish Brittfish 9 years
...trying to decide how much someone would have to pay me to go see this movie...
sofi sofi 9 years
Oh man! We just promised my son about 20 minutes ago before he went to bed.
ehadams ehadams 9 years
On the other hand, if he drags me to this I will force him to take me to Sex & the City. :evil:
ehadams ehadams 9 years
My boyfriend wants to see it at the IMAX too. I'm scared.
Entertainment Entertainment 9 years
radarkitty, wren, I might suggest a little Dramamine beforehand!
wren1 wren1 9 years
My bf wants to see this at an IMAX--UGH! I'm trying to stall...
radarkitty radarkitty 9 years
Oh wonderful. That would be me stephley. I already promised my 5 year old son I was going to take him!
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