Rally Road Racers 2023 Movie Review
Car racing has always found its appeal among cinema goers, and particularly in fans of animation, with the success of titles like “Cars”, “Turbo” “Redline” etc proving the fact in the most eloquent fashion. Apparently, it turns out that animation can capture the speed needed for the genre, as much as the sci-fi elements usually incorporated in these kinds of films. “Rally Road Racers” is definitely among those titles.
Young Zhi and his need for speed (pun intended) has always deemed him a pariah in the Chinese village he has been living with his grandmother, since the prevalent pace in the area is the one of Tai Chi. However, when Vainglorious, the reigning champion of the rally car circuit, comes to the village with an eviction notice for everyone and demolition vehicles, Zhi’s only choice is to bet the village deed on the Silk Road Rally, a four-part no-holds-barred race across China. With the help of The Amazing Gnash, a former champion who now sells motivational bumper stickers, Zhi manages to get a vehicle that could actually win, and the training he so much needed. Shelby, a girl he meets in his village, also comes to his aid. However, and despite his abilities and the help from his “comrades”, Zhi also suffers from an intense psychological condition that has him panicking every time he leads any kind of race.
Considering that this is a film addressed to kids, the overall aesthetics here are cheerful as they didactic. Ross Venokur, however, manages to present both in an organic way within the narrative, which emerges as one of the title’s best traits. For example, that bumper stickers Gnash is selling are filled with motivational messages, while the comments about insisting, patience, the value of friends and tradition, are all well-embedded in the story, thus preventing it from becoming sanctimonious in any way.
Also of interest here are the many characters appearing, with the secondary ones, considering that Zhi is the sole protagonist, being even more interesting. Gnash in particular emerges as a rather entertaining figure, with his metal-creating ability, his mentor-mentality and his fighting skills, which even result in him beating up a tiger. Vainglorious is also fun to watch, with him managing to be the embodiment of evil, in a way, though, that deems him as much ridiculous, while the way he exploits his minions is among the most hilarious aspects of the movie. Lasty, Shelby, and the twist she brings to the story, add another level of entertainment to the film, as much as an element of romance, rounding up the children-favorite concepts here.
The quality of the artform is also on a very high level. Carter Goodrich’s anthropomorphic character design in particular is quite interesting, with the huge heads and the tiny legs of the creatures (rodents? birds?) that are the village inhabitants being as appealing as they are funny. Goats, tigers, sea horses, frogs and a number of animal-like creatures round up the design in the most entertaining way, with the intense coloring also helping in that regard. Nicolas A. Chauvelot’s animation entails the speed needed for the main theme in the best fashion, with the racing and the action sequences all being rather appealing to watch, also due to their varying nature (from fisticuffs to rocket launches and everything between). The overall drawing is also of quality with the combination of sci-fi and oriental tradition working well.
Probably the most entertaining aspect is the way favorite tracks from the 80s and the 90 are included in the soundtrack, with “Take on Me” in particular and the way the artform changes to mirror A-Ha’s music video is as surprising as it is amusing to watch.
“Rally Road Racers” is a fun animation that will probably appeal to most kids, but still includes enough elements to keep the “parents” entertained.