The Sim Racer | Film Review by a Casual iRacing Driver

We love racing movies here at TehBen, and we’ve got a brand new one with a fresh twist. After the Covid lockdowns of 2020 and the increase in Sim Racing popularity there’s been more and more “gaming” (forgive the term) creeping into the mainstream of the racing community. The sim racing world has been made legitimate and rewards of success in that arena are all the greater as well. Let’s fire up Amazon Prime and check out a movie that focuses solely on the virtual cockpit, and see if it holds up in our favorite movie genre. 

The Sim Racer, currently available on Amazon Video ($9.99 purchase, $4.99 rental in US at time of review) is an independent film that looks solely on the simulated side of racing, with the racing taking place in the popular iRacing platform. Let’s be clear, the characters in the movie are real people, the scenes are live action and these are actual people with actual problems, and they are playing iRacing the same way thousands of people do every day.

The first thing that was hard not to notice is that the drivers in the racing scenes are wearing open faced “Days of Thunder” era helmets. We get confirmation that this is merely a facade to the viewer, as the gamers themselves are wearing VR headsets, but the driving scenes are a little silly looking at first glance. Luke, the main character, is a 29 year old man that couldn’t be more down on his luck. He lost his woman, he’s painfully close to losing his house, and he’s feeling disconnected with the struggles of everyday life. Without much else to go on, Luke looks to enter a $20,000 sim race and get his life back on track.

Via The Sim Racer trailer

The acting in the more traditional live action scenes is fine for an independent film. It’s odd when you realize that all the main characters in a worldwide sim platform live in the same town, but it’s worth it to balance the live action scenes with the sim. They are convincing enough as actors, but the dialog has moments that well…I don’t quite understand.

A tit man is a pushover…An ass man, don’t take shit from no one.

actual line from this actual movie

Super quick aside: Luke’s best friend Earl is worth the price of the film all on its own. He’s crude, funny, and a complete idiot…but he wears awesome racing shirts and his thoughts on love and women made me laugh out loud multiple times.

Via The Sim Racer trailer

Anyway, between qualifiers for The World 500, Luke meets an attractive young lady for some reason out of nowhere, and wouldn’t you know it she’s also a sim racer, and they immediately begin exploring their potentially amorous friendship at her initiation. This love story appears to only serve as a device to stretch this already short film into something that approaches a feature length, but it works well enough for what it is. June would probably be better served as a character in a more developed story idea, but they tried their best with the limitations of a sparse story premise.

Via The Sim Racer trailer

As a racing film, the boilerplate story appears to have been taken whole cloth and crammed to fit with an iRacing narrative. The old crew chief, Bootie Burns, that Luke recruits to help with his car setup is cantankerous and bemoans getting back in the game after “the old days.” That’s all well and good until we have to remember the old days of iRacing couldn’t be anymore than around 2008 at the EARLIEST, but whatever. If this was done as a comedic nod and wink at traditional worn out racing movie cliches, then it’s worthy of a tip of the cap…but to some viewers it’ll be hard to make that distinction. 

It’s a tall task to have live action people acting in the racing scenes of a virtual race. Hell, cockpit shots are a bit corny even in the best of films, so we have to give this movie a little break. Still, if you can handle the weirdness of live action heads in front of a base content super late model race at a free track (USA International) on the sim, you can enjoy the new twist of the traditional racing movie ideas. 

Why can’t people just express theyselves?

Luke

Verdict: The Sim Racer is a brave attempt at a traditional racing film in an iRacing sim background. The characters, story, and dialogue are purloined whole-ass from most every racing movie you can think of, and this film expects you to take that as a loving homage to a new format. All things being equal, this would have been better as a short film, as the ideas struggle to meet the metrics of a feature length idea. You, as the viewer, will need to do the heavy lifting to actually enjoy this film above the moving parts that are presented to you, but for anyone with sim racing experience and a love of old school racer flicks you’ll have 67 minutes of fun with The Sim Racer.

Follow Matt on Twitter for all things racing!

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