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The Movie based off of the anime series Speed Racer, directed by the Wachowski siblings. It features the titular Speed Racer characters with their same basic personalities thrown into a racing world where corporate greed determines everything.
Provides Examples Of:
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: The Wachowskis managed to distill the feel of the animated Speed Racer, keeping the bright colors, but bringing it into the live action arena.
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.
Animesque: It's been called 'the first live-action anime'. That's an accurate description.
Ascended Extra: Mom Racer. While in the original series, she is a minor character with limited dialogue. In the movie, Susan Sarandon plays her as a strong, caring mother who provides emotional support and inspiration for Speed.
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!
In the final Grand Prix, when Speed reaches Jack Cannonball Taylor, they engage in a personal duel and Speed's Mach 6 hits the GRX several times. In one of these, Speed utters "get that weak shit off my track!". Hard to distinguish due to the crashing sounds and the engine noise, so it went uncensored anyway.
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.
Billing Displacement: Roger Allam plays Royalton, the principle antagonist. So where is he on the poster cast list? Nowhere.
Bittersweet Ending: Speed wins the Grand Prix, Royalton's cheating and corruption are exposed and he is put in prison, it is implied that the WRL will be reformed. However, Racer X has decided against revealing to his family that he is still alive.
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.
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.
Flashback: A good bit during the first race, as Speed and family recall pivotal moments in their lives.
Another during the final race, as Speed remembers his interactions with his friends and family, allowing him to race for the pure love of the sport, which causes him to essentially transcend reality and complete an entire lap in mere seconds, winning the race.
Foreshadowing: Inspector Detector asks Racer X if he really wants to be at the Racer house for the attempt at recruiting Speed. Racer seems unusually emotional about it. We learn later that Racer X is Rex, Speed's older brother who everyone believes died years before in a racing crash.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Spritle gives Royalton the middle finger sign. In cable runs, this scene is replaced with Spritle giving Royalton the raspberry.
Gosh Dangit 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.
Green Screen: Was filmed almost entirely on green screen to give it an anime-style effect.
Idiosyncratic Wipes: All through the movie. There are images of people's heads traveling across the screen with the new scene unscrolling behind them. The scene immediately before the Grand Prix is one over a minute long with the good guys, the bad guys, and the Racer family all sliding across the screen as Ben Burns declares "This is not a race. This is a showdown." In a case of Book Ends, right after the race, Racer X gets one of his old face, his doctors, and his new face, to explain to the audience how he pulled off his mask when Speed (would otherwise have correctly) identified him as his brother, Rex.
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.
Karma Houdini: Ben Burns was just as crooked as the other racing champions, but it looks like he'll never have to answer for it.
Large Ham: The whole cast, with the exception of Susan Sarandon, who played the wholesome Mom Racer.
Even the most negative critic liked Roger Allam's over-the-top villainy.
Leitmotif: Virtually the entire soundtrack is remixes of the anime theme.
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.
Loophole Abuse: Taejo's sister uses this to get Speed into the Grand Prix. Ordinarily you'd need to win an entry certificate, which Speed technically did not, but since he helped Taejo win the team rally and Taejo declined, he can claim the spot.
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.
Mr. Fanservice: The appropriately sexy Emile Hirsch as the hunky hero Speed.
Matthew Fox as Racer X.
Rainnote 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. as Taejo. note 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.
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.
Speed knows that no one else could beat his time, so he is giving Rex immortality, in a sense.
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 and tries to attack Pops, who easily catches his fist and pulls him into a hold. This is when he notices the gold ring emblazoned GRECO-ROMAN WRESTLINGSTATE CHAMPION!
Non-ja: Uh oh.
Speed has one (combined with a Heroic BSOD) right as they entered the cave where Rex died. He quickly recovers, though.
Every single shot of Royalton's face from the moment the spearhook is revealed on-camera till the end of the film.
Oil Slick: Used by Snake Oiler during the Casa Cristo rally.
Older Than They Look: Christina Ricci was 27 when she played the role of Trixie, while Emile Hirsch was 23. Anyone watching would think he's the older of the two.
Papa Wolf: As the above "Non-ja" learned, you do NOT mess with Pops Racer's kids. EVER.
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.
Speed gets one (uncensored!) that also doubles as a Badass Boast during the final race:
"Get that weak shit off my track."
Pretty in Mink: Horuko shows up to help the Speed family, coming straight from the opera, and wearing a white dress with a white fox fur wrap.
Product Placement: Real advertisements appear among the fake ones, including SeaWorld on a blimp at Fuji and Orange Glo on a crewman's jumpsuit at Thunderhead. In the scene where the Royalton janitor calls to report a supposed mouse problem, his Motorola walkie-talkie gets a close-up.
Punch Catch: Happens to the non-ja when he takes a swing at Pops.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Royalton gives one to Speed when he refuses to sign a contract to race for him, serving up a generous helping of Large Ham as he explains how the sport of racing is really nothing more than a corporate tool for financial gain. The big players come together to negotiate the finishing order, and all the "smart" racers play along for the big paychecks and generous perks. The crowning moment comes when he outs Speed's childhood hero as just another corporate shill.
Royalton: <derisive laugh> You poor, naïve chump. I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that load of sickening schmaltz, and I'm going to give you a bit of an education, and at the end of it — if you're smart — you'll thank me.
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.
Different from the series, where Rex didn't alter his looks, just never took off the mask until the last episode; that's when Speed realizes that Racer X was Rex Racer.
Racer X: It doesn't matter if racing never changes—what matters is if we let racing change us.
Rule of Cool: The entire film runs on this. It knows its adapting an anime and embraces that fact with bright visuals and flashy and over-the-top racing that would make Redline blush. The movie basically makes the laws of physics its bitch.
Save The Day Walk Away: Rex faked his death to assume the Racer X identity. He decides to not to reveal his identity to keep his family safe. X tells Inspector Detector that while hiding the truth may have been a mistake, it is a mistake he will have to live with.
Scantron Picture: At the beginning of the movie, the young Speed fills the bubbles on a test to read GO REX GO, prompting his teacher to call his mom in for a meeting.
Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Inspector Detector threatens to shut down the Grand Prix when Royalton tries to deny Speed's Loophole Abuse. Royalton complains about the cost, but Inspector Detector sticks to his guns, confident that Royalton will fold.
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, admittedly including Formula One), and the outcomes of races have far-reaching effects on the global economy. This is because the "Big Five" corporations fix races to drive up or down the price of their own stock as suits their own plans. If Royalton's largesse is any indication, those Big Fives do have a major effect on the global economy.
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).
Not related to the original series, one of the founders of automobile racing Royalton names, Benjamin Braddock, is named after the protagonist of The Graduate.
Most of the named characters, even minor ones, are named after characters from the anime. Cruncher Block and Snake Oiler were both one-shot villians in the series.
One of the Vikings screams "KROM!" as a battlecry.
Exposition/Action montage, first seen in The Matrix Reloaded, used everywhere here.
The Punch Parry, 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.
Token Good Teammate: Haruko is appalled when her father and brother trick the Racer family into helping them. To make up for it, she goes to the Racer family and gives them Taejo's automatic invitation to 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.
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Put into play during the Crucible when Snake Oiler, foiled in his attempts to beat Speed, pulls out a pistol and opens fire on him.
Wide-Eyed Idealist: Speed. After he realizes how dirty the sport is (thanks to a "The Reason You Suck" Speech) he's reminded by Racer X that it doesn't matter, so long as the dirt doesn't rub off. In the end, Speed decides to make racing fit his ideal.
He apparently succeeded, as he inspired everyone after he won.
Ben Burns: It's a whole new world, baby! It's a whole new world!
Inspector Detector: This will change everything.
Racer X: It already has.
Wilhelm Scream: When Spritle and Chim-Chim are rummaging through Royalton Industries.
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 Wachowski Bros. 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 didn't have an F-Zero game.