Speed Racer (film)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The Movie based off of the anime series Speed Racer, directed by the Wachowskis. It features the titular Speed Racer characters with their same basic personalities thrown into a racing world where corporate greed determines everything.

An outrageous visual spectacle, the movie did not attempt to make any apologies for the implausibilities or cliches of the original, instead merely using them to show insane, over-the-top brightly colored race car action sequences.[1] These are easily the highlight of the movie and the first thing anyone who liked it will gush about. The entire script is pure, Grade A ham. And that's okay.

Tropes used in Speed Racer (film) include:
  • Action Girl: Trixie was fairly tough in the anime, a novel concept at the time, but in the movie is much more an active partner to Speed than in the original. Even taking part in a portion of one of the races.
  • Adaptation Distillation: And how!
  • Almost Kiss: Twice, until the end - where the trope gets parodied as Spritle and Chim-Chim interrupt it for the sake of a quip, and then it resumes.
  • Anachronic Order: Several scenes (especially in the beginning) keep switching around between multiple points of time.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Spritle (and Chim-Chim).
    • Speed was something of one to Rex.
  • Animesque: It's been called 'the first live-action anime'. That's an accurate description.
  • Artistic License Physics: Remember when Professor Frank said "Woke up in a car that was Tokyo Drifting everywhere?"
  • A-Team Montage: The Racers building the Mach Six for the Grand Prix, intercut with Royalton and Musha's contract signing.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The only reason for any of the cursing in the movie.
    • After Speed rejects Royalton's outrageously generous but sell-out deal, (something which became a Hannibal Lecture when he realised he wasn't getting what he wanted) 10-year-old Spritle gives Royalton the finger right when the elevators close!
  • Awesome McCoolname: Your family name is Racer and you name your kids Rex and Speed? Genre Savvy indeed.
  • Badass: Pretty much everyone in the main cast except Sparky, who makes up for it in mechanical talent. The fight in the mountains is one of the greatest beatdowns in the whole movie as Speed and friends effortlessly beat the tar out of several gun-toting goons completely unarmed.
    • Racer X. He ain't called "Racer Hex: The Harbinger of Boom" for nothing.
    • Pops Racer. He delivers the single most humiliatingly one-sided beatdown to a bad guy in the entire movie.
  • Badass Family: The Racers and extended family all apparently know how to deal out some awesome whoopass. Except Sparky.
  • Berserk Button: Want to drive sweet, gentle Speed Racer to violence? Insult his brother, or threaten his girlfriend.
    • NEVER mess with the Racer boys. Some poor ninja learned that the hard way thanks to Pops.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Speed and Trixie's kiss at the end after Speed wins the Grand Prix.
  • The Big Race
  • Bond One-Liner: Delivered by Pops Racer after dispatching a ninja:

Trixie: "Was that a ninja?"
Pops: "More like a nonja."

  • Book Dumb: As a young child, Speed was so obsessed about automobile racing that he spoke about little else; he even filled out a multiple choice test's answer sheet so that the dots read GO REX GO. He later admits he probably would not have finished high school without Trixie's help.
  • Bullet Time: It was written and directed by the Wachowskis. Think about that.
  • Catch Phrase: Trixie's "Cool beans."
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Speed and Trixie tell a fib to help Racer X and Inspector Detector by racing in the race that killed Rex.

Spritle: "Look!"
Pops: "I'm not falling for that."
Spritle: "It's Speed!"
Pops: "Speed's skiing!"
Spritle: "...then who's driving the Mach 5?!"
[On the television, the Mach 5 roars up the road]
Pops: "..."

  • Car Fu: Taken Up to Eleven. Also actually called such in the video game.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Spelled out verbatim in the VERY LAST SHOT of the film!
    • Quoted by the Judge!
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: by Word of God in the DVD Extras.
    • Speed - Blue
    • Pops - Red
    • Trixie - Pink
    • Racer X - Black
    • Taejo - White (really, the whole Togokahn family)
    • Spritle - Yellow
    • Royalton - Purple
    • Mom - Green
    • Sparkey - Orange
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Ninjas infiltrate the hotel where Taejo, Racer X and Speed are staying to take their team out of commission. The first ninja, a stealthy assassin, is deftly successful at silently drugging Taejo, while the second somewhat annoys Racer X. Supported when the third makes trouble for Speed, Sparky, Spritle and Chim-Chim, but then subverted as he is comically relieved of his pants by Spritle and Chim-Chim, then trounced by Pops Racer, who derides the assailant as a "non-ja".

"Terrible what passes for a ninja these days."

  • Context Sensitive Button: Speed has one button for each of the Mach 5's various tricks, however they're each shown capable of performing a variety of very precision maneuvers. For example, the "jump" button may deploy all four jump feet to hop over someone, or it might deploy just the left two to flip to the right, like how 'tap','double tap', 'press' and 'press and hold' can do different functions in a videogame but with more options than the ones mentioned above.
  • Continuity Nod: To the original series and the original Japanese version of the show; the end credits music is a remix of the "Speed Racer" theme song, and intermixed with the remix is dialogue from the original show and lyrics from the original Mach-A-Go-Go theme song.
  • Cool Car: Every car in the movie, pretty much, but the Mach 5 remains the coolest.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Royalton, of course.
    • Hell, any of the WRL sponsors qualify. They've been fixing races for the benefit of the stock market for at least 48 years.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Several times during the film, but especially during the final race, where Speed literally becomes the race and the track dissolves into, well, Nirvana.
  • Epic Race: The Casa Cristo 5000.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The appropriately sexy Emile Hirsch as the hunky hero Speed.
    • Matthew Fox as Racer X.
    • Rain[2] as Taejo. [3]
  • Evil Brit: E.P. Arnold Royalton. Interestingly, he has a semi-realistic working class London accent, not the usual "posh" evil accent. This might suggest that he is from a poor background.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: See Badass Family.
  • Flash Back: A good bit during the first race, as Speed and family recall pivotal moments in their lives.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Just look at how Speed acts in the opening scenes--how does anyone miss such obvious signs of ADHD? Or worse?
  • Fascinating Eyebrow - Oh Trixie...
  • Gainaxing: Gotta love nighties.
  • Genre Savvy: Pops, who pretty much tells Royalton he doesn't trust him because he expects he's a Corrupt Corporate Executive who lives by Screw the Rules, I Have Money. And he's absolutely right.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A woman offered Spritle candy, telling him he could get whatever he wanted. Also with Spritle, when an elevator door was closing, he gave Royalton the middle finger sign. In cable runs, this scene is replaced with Spritle giving Royalton the raspberry.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck: Averted; there's a moderate amount of cursing ("ass" is said a lot; there's both a in-movie Sound Effect Bleeped and entirely uncensored "shit") and Spritle even flipped Royalton once. Yet it's still rated PG. Probably added in because without it the film could EASILY have been rated G.
  • Happy Ending : With kiss included.
  • Hoisted By Her Own Petard: The female member of the Barbarian team (y'know, the ones that were bribed with furs?) is attempting to launch a beehive via built-in catapault into Taejo's car, but a quick side bump from Speed sends the giant honeycomb straight into the air, and back into the driver's seat.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: Lots.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Almost all the cars in the Casa Cristo have them (especially the Barbarians), even the "defensive" modifications made to Team Togokhan (Racer X, Speed, and Taejo) could be quite dangerous.
  • Large Ham: The whole cast, with the exception of Susan Sarandon SLUT!!
    • Even the most negative critic liked Roger Allam's over-the-top villainy.
  • Leitmotif: Virtually the entire soundtrack is remixes of the anime theme.
  • Live Action Adaptation
  • Long Lost Sibling: Intentionally subverted by Racer X, who takes off his mask to prove to Speed he's not actually Rex Racer. But he is.
  • Love At First Punch: Played with. Speed first notices Trixie after she punches out the Alpha Bitch on his behalf.
  • Machine Empathy: Rex teaches Speed to "drive, not steer" by listening to the feel of the car. Speed later uses this ability to intuitively jump-start the Mach 6 in the middle of the final Grand Prix.
  • Meta Twist: The identity of Racer X.
  • Montages: Lots of them, generally woven into the various action scenes. This allows the Action Prologue to ground us in the entire family's history; and, later, Speed's defiance of Royalton's Monologuing is made all the more hollow because we've already seen that the good guy loses.
    • The film is actually a pretty good study on well-handled exposition. Infodumps are done visually, essentially via the use of Manatee Gags, and with Idiosyncratic Wipes (often involving the face of the character being exposited about) to lead both into and out of the cut-away.
  • Mythology Gag: In the anime, Racer X always holds himself back so his younger brother can win the race. The movie does this backwards during the opening action sequence, when Speed deliberately loses to Rex's Racing Ghost.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Speed and Racer X both have their fangirls, but everyone was surprised at just how sexy Inspector Detector turned out with his styling specs. (He is basically a German Johnny Depp.)
  • Non-Action Guy: Sparky. Spritle and Chim-Chim win more fights than he does (to wit: they work together to de-pants a ninja, while Chim-Chim later gets to hit a guy with a wrench).
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: The cars all have a system called "Kwik-Save" that puts them in a protective foam bubble when they crash. Snake Oiler has a parachute.
    • A failure in this system was blamed for the death of Rex Racer.
  • Oh Crap: After the non-ja is pantsed by Spritle & Chim-Chim, he bumps into Pops, and takes quick notice of the gold ring emblazoned GRECO-ROMAN WRESTLING STATE CHAMPION!
    • Speed has one (combined with a Heroic BSOD) right as they entered the cave where Rex died.
    • Every single shot of Royalton's face from the moment the spearhook is revealed on-camera till the end of the film.
  • Oil Slick
  • Papa Wolf: As the above "Non-ja" learned, you do NOT mess with Pops Racer's kids. EVER.
  • Poor Man's Substitute: Cruncher Block for almost any character ever played by Tom Wilkinson.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Averted hard. This is the show in live action. If you like that, you'll like the movie. If you don't, you won't. This movie makes no apologies for its source material in any way, shape, or form. The movie is pretty much a love letter to the anime. The Wachowskis are obviously fans of the series and used the movie to give it a big squishy hug.
  • Precision F-Strike: Ben Burns gets it when Speed shows up to the final race. "Holy sh[* beep* ]!" The Double Take his fellow commentator gives him is just icing on the cake.
  • The Reveal: Subverted when Racer X reveals his identity to Speed after The Crucible and Speed learns that Racer X is not his brother, Rex Racer, as he had suspected and then double subverted when it is revealed that Rex Racer faked his death and had Magic Plastic Surgery as the ultimate disguise to fight against corruption as Racer X.
  • Rule of Cool: The entire film.
  • Rule of Fun: Again, the entire film.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Mr. Royalton, and Lampshaded by Pops Racer.
  • Seen It All: Pops. "Terrible what passes for a ninja these days."
  • Serial Escalation: Oh hell yes.
  • Serious Business: Even more so than in the anime. Auto racing is the most popular and most noble sport in the world, there's coverage in multiple languages, (which in Real Life doesn't happen at most sporting events that aren't The Olympics) and the outcomes of races have far-reaching effects on the global economy.
    • The "Big Five" corporations fix races to drive up (or down) the price of their own stock. If Royalton's largesse is any indication, those Big Fives do have a major effect on the global economy.
  • Setting Update: The film moves from The Sixties to a futuristic Retro Universe, way wackier and out of this world than the original series.
  • Shout-Out: The Crucible race has plenty of shout outs to the original series, even giving Speed an excuse to wear a neckerchief (so he can use it to cover his mouth during the desert run). At the end of the race he jumps out and poses like in the original anime intro.
    • And the plot of that part of the movie was similar to the beginning of the series.
    • The auto-jacks make the exact same sound they did in the anime and work the exact same way (see Context Sensitive Button above).
  • Signature Style: some Wachowski trademarks:
    • Exposition/Action montage, first seen in The Matrix Reloaded, used everywhere here.
    • Punching an attacker's punch, first seen in the Morpheus/Smith bathroom brawl in The Matrix, used by Racer X against his Nonja. Twice, in a Oner shot. Which is impressive when you hear DVD Commentary from Laurence Fishburne about how they had to cut immediately after they accomplished that stunt, because both he and Hugo Weaving were yelping in pain.
    • Bullet Time
  • Slow Motion Drop
  • Smug Snake: Snake Oiler, Speed's primary rival throughout the Casa Cristo 5000.
  • Spiked Wheels: Taken to an extreme, where... see here.
  • Techno Babble: one of the DVD Bonus Content clips is about nothing but the cars themselves, and quickly degenerates into this since the cars (and physics) have nothing to do with Real Life.
  • Technology Porn
  • That Man Is Dead: Rex. A Tear Jerker that he chose not to reveal himself to his family.
  • Theme Naming: The "Headhunters" (teams bribed by Cruncher Block to take out Team Togokhan) are the "Flying Foxes" (Femme Fatales), "Semper Fibre" (dressed as G.I.s), and "Thor-Axine" (Vikings). And then there's Snake Oiler...
  • Throwing the Fight: Many of the races are fixed.
  • Training from Hell: What Royalton puts his drivers through.
  • Villainous Breakdown: On the final lap of the Grand Prix...


    • Snake Oiler gets one earlier, when he tries and fails to send Speed off an icy, narrow mountain pass.
  • Wacky Racing: Courses that would be at home in F-Zero or Hot Wheels? Check. Themed racing teams, including one of barbarians paid in furs? Check. Cars covered in special weapons and improbable technology? Check.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Speed. Even after he realizes how dirty the sport is (thanks to a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Royalton) he just decides to make racing fit his ideal.
    • He apparently succeeded, as he inspired everyone after he won.
  • Wingding Eyes: When the Semper Fibre team is bribed with a Briefcase Full of Money, the team leader gets dollar signs in his eyes.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Taejo Togokahn offers to turn over incriminating evidence if Racer X and Speed help his team win the Casa Cristo 5000. They do, which causes Togokahn's stock to skyrocket, and he leaves them empty-handed.
  • Wraparound Background: Used in the most obvious way possible, on both sides of the car, with a bike that rings it's bell every time it passes.
  • Xanatos Gambit: As noted in Serious Business, a company may intentionally drive down the value of its own stock if it can gain some other benefit in doing so. Naturally if this plan fails, and something else happens, they still benefit.
  • X Meets Y: Averted. Just because it's directed by The Wachowskis doesn't automatically make it "The Matrix with ____". The game, on the other hand, plays this straight, as it is "F-Zero GX meets Speed Racer". This is partly why it's actually pretty good, unlike a lot of movie-based games. It helps that the Wii doesn't have an F-Zero game yet.
  1. If anything, the original anime is less over-the-top and unbelievable than the movie.
  2. a Korean pop star, with whom Steven Colbert has established a one-sided feud. And also appeared on the show long enough to beat Colbert at Dance Dance Revolution. He was actually asked to star in the Ninja Assassin film after his fight scene in Speed Racer was positively received.
  3. It's like the screenwriters got together and asked, 'Now that we have Rain, how many fangirl moments can we give him?' He's first seen bleeding and with a ripped silky shirt, later with no shirt, in a dress, kicking bad guy ass, and finally in a tuxedo. Hm.