A word of caution; if you go to see "Speed racer", make sure you've had nothing stronger then caffeine, and preferable as little of that as possible. And as someone who almost swears by caffeine, that's quite a bit of advice.
I remember watching a few episodes of the cartoon when I was very young, but I have little memory of it, so I can't say how the movie compares to it (the short-lived Geico commercial doesn't count, I suppose).
For effects, the movie doesn't bother a bit with trying to make them look real, and somehow that makes it rather more realistic then often happens in movies where it does try for realism. Race course tracks that would make a roller coaster feel envious, cars that do things that no car can do while still remaining drivable, somehow in trying to be cartoonishly outlandish and hyperrealistic, the effects become almost more realistic then normal.
The visual appearance of the movie is one of it's biggest appeals. It really is one fo the better-looking movies I've seen. The brights are very-bright, they are everywhere, and they go by really fast.
Throw in inept ninjas, a not-so-bad bad guy, a not-so-good good guy, pirahnas, a back-stabbing teammate, and a too-intelligent monkey, then what more could you want in a movie?
Well, not much more. Maybe less, like less Susan Serandon. I could handle John Goodman, most of the time. And this movie raises a further question--between "We Are Marshall", "Vantage Point", and now "Speed Racer", when does Matthew Fox have time to film for "Lost"?
Anyway, back on topic...
The story itself could have been all too typical, and it wasn't all that surprising, though it did have some twists too it, like the one racer who uses Speed and Racer X and betrays them after their win. Also how the Racer X thing was left revealed but unresolved at the end was also a twist, maybe to leave something open for a sequel.
It is a hard movie to categorize, though. It is almost a kid's movie, but there are things in it that not very kid-friendly. I'm not sure I would recommend it for kids. It's a little simplistic for a grown-up's movie, though, but they could still enjoy it.
The message of the movie, though, is a bit iffy, at least to my mind.
For example, when Goodman's character starts ranting about how some people have too much money, I could almost agree with it, so long as we begin with the idea that the first person who has too much money is John Goodman. Or whomever wrote that line into the script. Or the Wachowski brothers and Joel Silver.
Or how about the apparent aversion to sponsors. All well and good, until you wonder who's paying for all those crazy race tracks to be built, and who puts up the prize money those racers are racing for? Granting, I didn't notice any of the cars in the movie having a big Tide or Bud logo stenciled on their hoods, but that just means that it's a movie, while NASCAR is, well, almost real-life.
One could find some good things in the family interaction, and Speed and Trixie seem to keep things pretty clean between themselves.
I liked the movie. I recommend it, with some cautions.