College Movie Review
Dreams Gives Human Touch to America’s Favorite Spectator Sport
By Stephen Davis
While most kids are out playing baseball, basketball, and golf, the lead subjects of Marshall Curry’s Racing Dreams are dreaming a bit outside of the box. Instead of hitting the courts and fields, they are venturing out to the track, the go-kart track that is.
Racing Dreams follows three aspiring NASCAR drivers, all of whom are vying for the coveted World Karting Association’s National Championship. Brandon, the oldest of our three subjects and a member of the Senior League, is a bit of a tough pill to swallow. His drug addict parents left him in the care of his grandparents, who don’t seem to have the financial ability to fund his passion. Then there is eleven-year-old Annabeth, the Danica Patrick of the go-karting world, who struggles to prioritize her potential racing career, middle school popularity, her affection to the before mentioned Brandon, and her longing to beat reigning Junior League champion Josh, the film’s third and final lead subject.
If all that sounds confusing, don’t let it be. Curry’s most vital talent is his ability to straight shoot a story with minimal side tangents. Sure we see Brandon’s troubled home life, a degree of which migrates onto the track, but it doesn’t consume his part of the story. Annabeth’s struggle to determine what she wants in life is a hot topic through many of her scenes, as is John’s father’s ambitious dreams for his son. However, none supersedes the story’s central story arc, winning the year’s National Cup.
The ‘casting’ in the film is brilliant. Each of our three subjects brings an entirely different aspect of racing to the forefront. The competitive edge is downplayed in much of the film, and that was a bit of a disappointment. Curry tries so hard to personalize these three kids that he occasionally loses focus in his overall goal: the racing!
There were quite a few humane moments that helped give the film both heart and soul. The family members of those involved were interviewed a bit too much, (most notably Annabeth’s mother), making for a less interesting off-track story. I do wish that we had been given a bit more ‘normal’ life footage, to really see the racers when they interact with kids both on and off the track; however, that opportunity never presented itself.
It is always interesting to see the different paths of today’s youth, living their dreams, and I was surprised that a non-racing fan such as myself could actually enjoy this film. It was far from perfect, but the fluid presentation style helps keep your attention as you embark on a journey that is filled with raw innocence and high-speed adrenaline races. These kids are aging before our very eyes, and seeing how they respond to the pressure makes for a great and highly unique viewing experience.