Content Caution

Gran Turismo 2023


In Theaters


Home Release Date




Bob Hoose

Movie Review

Jann Mardenborough hasn’t been able to get it in gear since he graduated from high school. He tried college for a little bit, but it didn’t work. So, at this point he’s stuck in a dead-end job selling socks and underwear at a local department store in Wales.

The 20-year-old’s parents are pushing him to go back to college, to have some kind of plan for his future. Maybe follow a dream. But frankly, the only dream he’s really interested in has to do with cars.

And I’m not talking your average run-to-the-supermarket kind of people-mover. No, Jann is enamored with the kind of majestic machines that he drives in PS3’s über-popular Gran Turismo racing game. He can build ‘em. He can fine tune ‘em. And he can race ‘em better than anyone.

Of course, in the non-digital world, pro racing is a pretty exclusive club. Its members breathe rarefied- and very expensive air. And Jann’s middle-class father is quick to remind his son that a dream needs to be at least somewhere close to the realm of reality. Otherwise, it’s like spitting into the wind. No matter how good you may be at some silly game.

What Jann doesn’t know, however, is that a marketing guy named Danny Moore is also reaching for a dream at that moment in time. He’s pushing a wild idea to the big wigs at Nissan Motor Corp.

Danny knows for a fact that Gran Turismo—an incredibly accurate driving sim created by Kazunori Yamauchi—has inspired 80 million gamers to love cars in its 20+ year history up to that point. So why not connect all that passion and all those car lovers to Nissan, he asks? Why not put together a GT Academy for great Gran Turismo players and find the best of the best? Then put that guy or gal on Nissan’s real-world pro circuit.

In Danny’s estimation, that would make for a marketing dream.

Of course, as you may have heard, a dream needs to be somewhere in the realm of reality. And everybody tells Danny that his dream is crazy. Nobody thinks it’s possible. Drivers in that pro class are rare. They’re elite athletes.

Gamers, on the other hand, are guys and gals sitting in a dark room with too many chip and cookie crumbs on their shirt fronts. The whole cockamamie concept is nothing but nonsense.

However, the Nissan execs … give the project a green light.

And just like that, Danny Moore and Jann Mardenborough both get a shot at accomplishing something quite impossible.

Positive Elements

Early on, Jann and his dad, Steve, are somewhat at odds. Steve thinks Jann’s video game obsession is a worthless waste of time. But even more than that, he’s earnestly concerned for his son’s future. Steve knows how his own lack of planning as a young man hurt some aspects of his life. And he desperately wants to spare Jann that same pain.

That causes a real rift between the two, and Jann lashes verbally at his dad. “I’m doing this whether you believe in me or not,” he proclaims.

Ultimately though, Steve recognizes Jann’s passion and hard work, and he does all he can to support his son. Jann’s mom follows suit. And the couple invests hard earned money to fly to Jann’s side in support. Jann and his dad tearfully embrace and voice their love for one another.

Jack Slater, a former pro racer who steps into the role of engineer for the gamer drivers project, is another adult who speaks positively into Jann’s life. Initially he doesn’t think it’s remotely possible that a gamer of any stripe can actually become a real racer. But as he works with Jann, he becomes a great source of encouragement and seasoned insight. He becomes a mentor for the young driver.

Spiritual Elements


Sexual Content

Jann has a crush on a local twenty-something, Audrey, who lives in his neighborhood. And the two have a very nice friendship, though they seem to be two ships passing in the night. With time, though, Jann realizes that he’d like them to be something more and Audrey declares that she wants that, too. The two get together in Tokyo. They date, go to a dance club and kiss. And they kiss later after a race as well.

Jann is on his laptop watching a racing video when his younger brother walks in and asks, “Is that porn?”

When Jann finally drives well enough to earn his pro license, his pit crew chief makes a sexual quip about Jann attaining maturity in a real race.

Violent Content

Early on, Jack Slater voices his disapproval at the idea of strapping a gamer to a “200 mile-per-hour rocket” of a car. And we see cases where he is proven quite right. There are a number of crashes that damage or demolish cars and send young wannabes home.

There are a several crashes involving pro racers as well. We learn that it was a crash and a fellow racer’s death that ended Jack’s own pro racing career.

One of the most devastating crashes onscreen involves a driver who smashes into a wall and barely crawls out of the intensely burning wreck that’s caused.

The second-worst accident involves Jann. His car is swept up into the air and tumbles end over end into the surrounding barriers and nearby spectators. We’re told that one spectator died as a result. And we see the emotional agony Jann goes through, bruised and bloodied in a hospital bed, because of his part in that death.

Jack points out that the crash was not Jann’s fault. But it could impact Jann’s ability to move forward, he says, much like many devastating moments in life. “The crash won’t define you, but how you respond to it will.”

In several instances, Nick Capa, a privileged pro whom Jack Slater used to work for, makes foolish and potentially deadly choices to demonstrate his superiority to Jann. He thumps Jack’s car with his own vehicle. In one case, it sends Jann skidding off the course. In another, Capa wrecks his own vehicle in the process.

Crude or Profane Language

Language is the biggest red flag for young viewers here (especially all those kids who would love to go see a game-related movie about fast cars). There are 10 s-words, two (or perhaps three) f-words, and several uses each uses of the words “b–ch,” “d–n” and “a–hole.” God’s and Jesus’ names are misused six times (two of those blending God with “d–n”). Somebody calls a group of drivers “pr-cks.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

A group of teens and twenty-somethings drink beer at a street party. Several of them become very drunk. Jann, who’s sober, drives two of them (one of whom is his brother) home.

Several adults drink beer on a jet and in a restaurant. Jann is in the group. Later he and others drink champagne and spray bottles of the stuff over a crowd of people.

Other Negative Elements

Jann’s brother and friend, decide to pass beers between two moving cars—despite Jann’s warnings not to. The shenanigans almost cause an accident, and police then pull the two cars over. But Jann decides to run from police and out-maneuvers them. (Which the movie winks at and praises him for with a video game-like award of “Cop Avoidance.”)

A number of racers and pit crew members are smug and make it very clear (verbally and physically) that Jann is not wanted on the race circuit.

During their strength and endurance practice, some of the gamer drivers bend over in pain. One vomits.


As a racing movie with a video game heart, Gran Turismo picks its lane and hits its line very well.

The film is based, remarkably, on a true story that took place in 2011. It’s fun, tightly paced and gives viewers a real sense of the speed of a race and the incredible effort needed to be a real-world pro racer. I also enjoyed how director Blomkamp sweetened the visual pot with CGI special effects and graphics designed to appeal to the gamers in the crowd.

However, viewers revving their engines for a family outing need to keep in mind that there are a few things here that could be worthy of a yellow flag. As you might expect, there are fiery car wrecks and vehicles hurtling into spectators and scenery. But you might not expect the fiery language that hits viewers at speed, ready to scorch young ears in the family pit crew.

Too bad the PG-13 rated movie’s makers didn’t take a cue from the E-rated game’s creators on that front.

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Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.