• Emile Hirsch reflects on
    Speed Racer
    ‘s legacy and box office flop, remaining thrilled by the movie’s cult following.
  • Despite mixed reviews, the movie’s cast captures the energy of the manga and their anime counterparts well.
  • Hirsch and other cast members have remained grateful for the experience, with the lead actor even previously expressing his desire to star in a sequel.



As the franchise gears up to return to live-action, Emile Hirsch candidly reflects on Speed Racer. The 2008 movie served as a live-action English adaptation of the iconic manga of the same name revolving around the adventures of the titular character. Also starring John Goodman, Christina Ricci and Susan Sarandon, and helmed by The Matrix team, the Wachowskis, the movie was a critical and commercial disappointment on release, only grossing just shy of $94 million against its $120 million production budget, with reviews proving generally mixed.

During a recent interview with MovieWeb, Hirsch was asked about Speed Racer‘s legacy and initial reception on release. The star candidly recalled his and his co-stars’ surprise when the movie failed at the box office, as the team all felt confident in the movie they had made, while also enthusiastically sharing his love for its cult following that has amassed over the past 16 years. Check out what Hirsch said below:

What’s interesting about Speed Racer is that the trajectory that it took, weirdly, is similar to the cartoon. The cartoon only had like two seasons, maybe three. And that’s not very much for a huge children’s show. These cartoons go forever. So it had kind of a relatively short run.

But over the years, it just gained this cult following. When it came out, it was unanimously dogged. I remember we were all like, “Man, this movie is so good. How come nobody gets it?” That was sort of our perspective. But then we were also like, “Are we the crazy ones?” Because it’s the public and the critics… So it’s really validating to have everybody come around all these years later.

Why Speed Racer Remains A Cult Classic

With a 42% approval rating from critics on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, the response to Speed Racer was decidedly very mixed, with the main points of criticism aimed at its 135-minute runtime and lackluster script, while its extensive CGI left reviewers divided. Ultimately, though, critics were generally favorable towards the movie’s stylized direction and the performances of its cast, with reviews feeling they all perfectly captured the energy of their manga and anime counterparts. Check out how Speed Racer compares to the Wachowskis’ other movies on Rotten Tomatoes:


RT Critics Score

RT Audience Score




The Matrix



The Matrix Reloaded



The Matrix Revolutions



Speed Racer



Cloud Atlas



It was ultimately the latter elements of the movie that helped build Speed Racer‘s cult following to the passionate numbers it has today. Through their mix of colorful visual effects and production design, slick cinematography and overall bright tone, the Wachowskis clearly understood where the heart and soul of the source material lied and effectively brought that to life in the movie. The cast also showed a remarkable grasp on their characters’ personas, with Hirsch, Ricci and Matthew Fox’s Racer X in particular serving as standouts of the bunch.

Even in spite of the negative reception, many of the Speed Racer cast remain grateful for their experience on the movie. Hirsch previously shared his desire to Screen Rant in late 2022 to reprise the role, albeit on the condition that the Wachowskis be involved as he “wouldn’t feel right trying to initiate something like that with them“. Though the franchise is moving in a different direction with a live-action TV show from J.J. Abrams on Apple TV+, it remains heartwarming for longtime fans of the movie to hear Hirsch’s ongoing love for its cult following.

Source: MovieWeb

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