When troubled teen Jack Hooper (Lodder) lands himself in hot water in Sydney, he and his widowed mum, Christie (the eternally spunky O’Connor), pack up and head west to Busselton on the WA coast, hoping for a fresh start.
Plagued by the untimely death of his dad (Perkins) a few years earlier, Jack is lacking the direction needed to traverse the often-rocky terrain towards adulthood. But he has a good heart and promises his mum to change his ways.
A chance invitation to the local go-kart track piques his interest, and he is soon befriended by Colin (Jefferson), a likeable kid copping grief from local bullies, and Mandy (Bampos), a poor little rich girl but naturally gifted kart engineer trying to make her own way in the sport.
Jack’s natural talent behind the wheel comes to the attention of track owner Patrick (Roxburgh), who, as a former kart champ himself, can see the kid’s potential.
When Jack’s insistence on trading labour for track time gets the better of Patrick, a Karate Kid-esque relationship develops between the pair. This results in some odd chores in a decidedly ‘wax-on, wax-off’ vein, yet provides the pair with a glimpse of life direction and inspiration they both sorely need.
The teenage friends then scavenge enough random parts to assemble a kart of their own and go racing, with rookie Jack quickly making a name for himself as a wildcard in the big leagues.
The stiffest of competition comes from Mandy’s hard-edged team-boss dad, Mike (de Montemas), and rival driver brother, Dean (Van Grootel). While Mandy’s family ignores her own technical prowess, their close family bond still sees her having to help Jack in secret.
A mix of skill and pure luck see Jack make it through the State Championship kart rounds, but his recklessness and pigheadedness bubble to the surface again and he quickly slips back into old bad habits.
A Nationals berth seems unlikely, but some pointed soul-searching from Jack and concurrent personal growth for many of the primary characters see the team back on track – literally – and looking to finish on a high.
It’s definitely not rocket science, but the simple concept of Go! makes it the perfect flick to switch off from life for a while and enjoy some time out with the family. It’s fairly predictable, and both the storyline and the technical accuracy of some of the karting details have gaping holes, but sometimes, who cares? The scenery is great, the plot is easy and there is enough tyre-smoking XB wagon doughnut action (or ‘cupcakes’ as Jack’s mum hilariously calls them) to get you smiling.
- 1974 Ford XB Fairmont wagon
- 1973 HQ Holden panel van
- 1996 Ford EL Fairmont
- Stohr F1000 race car
- 1978 HZ Holden
- William Lodder
- Richard Roxburgh
- Frances O’Connor
- Anastasia Bampos
- Darius Amarfio Jefferson
- Cooper Van Grootel
- Dan Wyllie
- Damian de Montemas
- Adam T Perkins
- Director: Owen Trevor
Plenty of on-track kart action, plus some car-park burnouts and hoop-throwing in a very cool, 12-slot-clad XB wagon
A city-slicker teen and his mum move to a small coastal town for a fresh start, and get drawn into the quick-paced world of competition go-karting
Cool flick fact:
The Busselton Kart Club, where most of the film was shot, is very active in the dirt karting scene and celebrated its 40th anniversary last year