Most young boys (and young girls) can't wait to get behind the wheel of anything with an engine. I'll never forget the time I visited a friend's farm and he showed me his beat up go-kart stored in the barn. Suddenly our friendship shifted gears, and I was more interested in the go-kart than poor Robert.
Such is the fascination of Watts Davies (Will Rothhaar), a picked-on boy who dreams of being a winning kart driver. But "Light Bulb" (as he has been knick-named by his enemies) has more than his fair share of reasons to keep his aspiration's tires flat.
His mechanic father Vic (Randy Quaid), once a champion kart racer, has become reclusive since the untimely death of Watt's mother to cancer. With little family support, the young man has taken the opportunity to get into trouble, usually while riding his roughed up go-kart. The day he races his personal bully Rodney Wells (Joe Dinicol), his sidewalk antics manage to cause community chaos including ripping the dress off a blushing bride and landing his machine in a swimming pool.
Thanks to frequent brushes with the law, the boy who seems destined to be labeled the town's troublemaker begins to build a solid relationship with Deputy Jenna West (Jennifer Wigmore). The caring officer seems to understand what the boy really needs, and encourages him to enter the big International Karting Federation's (I.K.F. -- a real organization) regional championships, which happens to be coming to his small city.
Sounds good, but how will he get a worthy kart? The shiny new model in a local shop is $4,000 and his feeble attempt to raise money is thwarted by yet another attack from his nemesis, Wells. The ensuing scuffle, and subsequent visit to the police station, draws his grieving parent into the situation. Vic is suddenly faced with the reality that his inability to cope with the loss of his spouse may cause him to lose his son too.
Created by Knightscove Entertainment (a small Canadian production company specializing in family movies), Kart Racer is a compelling drama you can take the entire family to. With little language concerns, a teen kiss and some bullying, the only pause I had as a parent was with a young female character delighting in spraying artistic graffiti around the community. This type of vandalism is prevalent in too many cities, and it would have been nice to see some consequences included for her actions.
Lightening from a dark and dreary beginning to an inspiring portrayal of father and son relationships, this film depicts both generations discovering their answers in each other's lives. And like the experiences it portrays, this film is best shared with parent and child sitting in adjoining seats. Besides the bonus of increasing family bonds, adult viewers will also enjoy the last third of the film that features an incredibly shot kart racing sequence sure to prevent anyone --whether young or old-- from falling asleep at the wheel.