Based on the 1960s Japanese-manga-derived animated TV series of the same name, SPEED RACER follows the adventures of the title character (Emile Hirsch), a young race car driver who sits behind the wheel of the lightning-fast Mach 5 vehicle. Aided by his family, which includes Pops Racer (John Goodman) and Mom Racer (Susan Sarandon), and his devoted doe-eyed girlfriend, Trixie (Christina Ricci), Speed racks up victory after victory, but still lives in the shadow of his late older brother, Rex (Scott Porter), who died in a race. When Speed garners the wrath of Royalton Industries, he must team up with the enigmatic Racer X (Matthew Fox) to defeat the ruthless corporation.
Written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, the masterminds behind the MATRIX films, SPEED RACER replaces the gritty techno patina of that blockbuster series with a polished, brightly hued virtual reality. Though the eye-popping visuals threaten to eclipse the acting, the fine cast gamely makes the most of their green-screen environment, particularly the likable Hirsch, who won acclaimed for his decidedly different INTO THE WILD role, and LOST's always-noble Fox. Adding to the movie's giddy mood are Paulie Litt and his chimp companion, who provide comic relief as Speed's playful younger brother, Spritle, and Chim Chim, respectively. While definitely a case of style over substance, SPEED RACER is a movie meticulously designed to appeal to families and kids, especially the Spritle-like young ones.