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The movie was written and directed by the Wachowski siblings. They had just completed the Matrix trilogy, movies with frantic special effects, a dopey storyline, and a vague, anti-business message; and believed that a fourth Matrix movie would doom them into the mold of J.K. Rowling, although Rowling was a commercial success, about which the Wachowskis did not have to worry. They also wanted to make a family-friendly movie and avoid that exciting "R" rating, so that things like swing sets would take the place of cocaine (on the screen, that is; not in the executive offices).
The result was notorious not for being family-friendly but for more frantic special effects, a dopey storyline, and a vague, anti-business message. Also, it bombed. The Wachowskis vowed to make something completely different next time — but wound up making Jupiter Rising instead.
Speed Racer is an 18-year-old speed racer. The love of his life is NASCAR. Lest the viewer think that Speed Racer is a shallow stereotype:
- He has a father whose name is Pops and a mother called Mom.
- His repair garage has a mechanic named Sparky.
- To top it off, he has a girlfriend named Trixie.
As the crowning achievement of a screenplay written by Captain Obvious, Speed Racer has an older brother named Faster Racer. But he was killed while racing in the Grueling Fast Car Race 500. Speed Racer hopes to die an even bloodier death to prove he is as worthy as his dead brother. He is now sweeping the world with racing skill, a head full of unresolved issues, and a storybook family about which he is very fond. Indeed, it takes only the movie's first hour to pound into the viewer's head that Speed Racer is one good little boy.
Unfortunately, E.P. Moneypenny Moneybags, owner of Moneybags Industries, offers Speed Racer wads of $100 bills, a desk larger than the bleachers at the drag strip, and a secretary easier than Monica Lewinsky. Speed Racer politely tells Moneybags he would love to race for Moneybags Industries, but that Pops always distrusted fat-cat businessmen. Speed Racer's (or at least Pops's) instincts are true, because Moneybags has fixed all the world's races just to make money. Now Moneybags is livid at Speed Racer and sets out to ruin him. When his drivers cannot out-race him, they send in the lawyers.
So the forces of evil have all-but-ruined the forces of good, the movie has only an hour left to deal with all this crap, and the movie-goer has no idea how it will all work out, when in walks Taejo Togosandwich. He, luckily, is Japanese. And he can help Speed Racer bring Moneybags to justice — but only if Speed Racer speed races on his team. The boy agrees, and the team installs high-tech gadgets in his race car. But no steroids.
Speed Racer starts to suspect that another team member, mysterious Masked Racer, is Speed Racer's dead brother, which could only be true if he didn't really die. Masked Racer takes off his mask, but his face is completely different and he tells Speed Racer that his brother really did die, as though he were there. Brutally corrupt car racers gang up on Speed Racer and he learns that Taejo, like Moneybags, is only in it for the money. Everyone he has met is selfishly pursuing loot, while he alone selfishly pursues the checkered flag. He goes to the Climactic Grand Prix in a state of despair — matched by the theater patrons, who now worry that evil will really triumph over good.
But that would be creative writing (and perhaps even "moral ambiguity"), about which there was never any need to worry. Legendary racer Jack "Coathanger" Taylor uses a coat hanger to grab onto Speed Racer's car. This is cheating! Speed Racer uses his own car's high-tech gadgets to reveal the cheating to the television cameras. Then he kills him. Speed Racer wins the race, Moneybags confesses to the naked pursuit of money and is sent to prison for it, Trixie kisses Speed Racer, and Pops and Mom smile. But Masked Racer confesses to the camera that he really is Speed Racer's older brother, who never died but just got plastic surgery to change his face, and will not reveal any of this to his family now — because he has to live with his decision. All clear about that?
The movie was an early attempt by the Japanese to brainwash Americans. It has been largely successful, as most Americans have no idea that this is actually a Japanese cartoon, mostly because they never went to see it anyway. In a rare break from the Laws of Anime, no one in the cartoon has blue hair. But everything else is predictable.
edit Episodes of the anime
In a typical episode of the anime, Speed Racer travels somewhere to be in some race. Nearby, there is a bank heist or assassination or something. Speed gets caught up in it somehow, as many NASCAR racers solve nearby crimes while the remainder of the pit crew worry about more ordinary matters like strategy for the upcoming race.
The typical episode also introduces a young, hot female supporting character, who does not mind hanging out with Speed Racer and never seeing him again. Speed Racer manages to get alone with her for much of the episode, though there is no explicit sex, except in the hentai version, in which Speed Racer has the ability to grow tentacles to satisfy his love interest, but they are blurred so that the episode can be shown in Japan.
Then Speed Racer rejoins the racing team, they thwart the villains' plans with trivial ease, and Speed Racer wins the car race against a dozen other teams that have had the luxury of spending the entire week studying how to win rather than having to take any time out to save the world.
edit Speed's race car
What would a show about race car driving be without a race car? If Speed Racer did not have his car, then he would not be a speed racer, traveling around the world and enticing women with his ability to grow tentacles.
Speed's car is called the Mach 5, and it is something from Pimp My Ride, except with gadgets that are actually useful. The gadgets are controlled by a set of buttons set in the middle of the steering wheel. This means that, if the airbags deploy, they activate all the gadgets at once:
- A-Button: deploys hydraulic jacks to raise and lower the car. The pit crew has plans to complete the transformation of the Mach 5 into a low-rider, by painting it candy purple with a Virgin Mary painted on the hood.
- B-Button: deploys belt grips for the tires, for when driving horizontally just isn't good enough.
- C-Button: deploys huge circular saws from an area beneath the hood of the car. Possibly an attempt to get to that hard-to-reach lumberjack demographic.
- D-Button: raises the bulletproof roof.
- E-Button: deploys spikes to shoot out of the tires for fun (only done twice in the entire series)
- F-Button: raises a periscope and turns on the TV on the dashboard. Illegal in some jurisdictions, except perhaps the periscope part
- G-Button: deploys a bird-shaped robot from a slot in the hood. Can be used to send messages to people, knock out bad guys, disable airplanes, anchor climbing ropes to pyramids, call the mothership, achieve faster-than-light travel, etc.