Speed Racer (2008)

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To make a kid’s movie that isn’t just a kid’s movie, you have to establish a balance between the simple stuff that appeals to kids on an instinctual level, and the more complex, allegorical stuff that parents want their kids to see. Speed Racer is a boisterous example of this, coupling a potent visual experience with themes of family and honor. At the film’s heart is Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch), a once-in-a-generation driver whose love of the sport is matched only by a steadfast devotion to family. When his roots put him at odds with a corrupt sponsor (Roger Allam), Speed is forced to defy his father (John Goodman) and follow in the footsteps of his disreputable older brother (Scott Porter), threatening his own standing in a series of dangerous, underground races. Along with most of the film’s race sequences, these less-than scrupulous events provide the film’s most exciting moments, and reveal the Wachowskis as not just dynamic, but remarkably efficient filmmakers.

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Watch it with kids or don’t, but understand that Speed Racer was created with them in mind. It’s a film with a heart, and a lesson: through anything and everything, your family will be there for you, and you must be there for them.

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