Race the Sun (1996)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Comedy, Drama  |  22 March 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.3/10 from 2,536 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 16 critic

A bunch of high school misfits in Hawaii, introduced by their new teacher, attend a science fair in which they draw up inspiration to build their own solar car and win a trip to compete in the 1990 World Solar Challenge in Australia.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Machi
Daniel Webster
Cindy Johnson
Jack Fryman
Eduardo Braz
Gilbert Tutu
Marco Quito
Sara Tanaka ...
Uni Kakamura
Oni Nagano
Adriane Napualani Uganiza ...
Luana Kanahele
Hans Kooiman
Robert Hughes ...
Judd Potter
Ed Webster


Idealistic Sandra Beecher has just started working as a Science teacher at Kona-Pali High School in Hawaii, being hired for this job despite her teaching background being English. Her reason for taking the job is largely to run away from the mainland and a failed marriage. She finds that her students are an unmotivated lot, largely because there are low societal expectations of them, including from their parents and the school faculty. As such, she directs a handful of her most unmotivated students to attend a regional science fair at which there are no Kona-Pali displays to come up with their own science fair projects. An incident at the fair does spur one of her students, Daniel Webster, self-professed as not being good at most things but believing he is a good designer, to announce, with the support of his fellow students, that they want to build a solar powered car of his design as their project, and to enter that car in the upcoming Inter-island Race. American Corporate giant, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A dream can make all the difference under the sun.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild language and a brief incident of teen drinking | See all certifications »




| |

Release Date:

22 March 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La compétition  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,700,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(8 channels)


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


At the science fair, Marco calls the students from the competing team mahu(s) which is the Hawaiian word for homosexuals. See more »


When introducing herself to the students, Ms. Beecher prints her name on the blackboard. It repeatedly changes between printed and cursive throughout the scene. See more »


Rock You Like A Hurricane
Written by Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, & Herman Rarebell
Performed by Scorpions
Courtesy of Mercury Records
By Arrangement with Polygram Film & TV Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

Nice Little Film
21 May 2007 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

For curious movie buffs, "Race the Sun" is a blend of "Breaking Away", "Walkabout", and "Summer School"; making it quite unique and considerably better than its rating. It's neither ambitious nor technically brilliant; in fact the cinematography somehow manages to NOT capture the inherent scenic beauty of a series of Hawaiian and Australian locations. But the casting and directing are solid and the story has so much charm that you don't mind it being corny and predictable.

Halle Berry and James Belushi play teachers at a Hawaiian technical high school who reluctantly sponsor a team of students building a solar-powered car. "Race the Sun" was inspired by a group of Hawaiian students who actually entered the World Solar Challenge in 1980. The film would have been better if the cartoonish corporate villain had been replaced by some actual scientific explanations and a bit of background on the race itself. Speaking of cartoons, the solar cars look like something out of "Wacky Races" but there is no sign of Penelope Pitstop in this entertaining race.

The school is in Hawaii, which makes for some interesting cultural details (as does the race's Austrialian setting), but for viewer identification purposes the settings could be anywhere.

Thankfully the film avoids a couple of obvious traps. Berry and Belushi end up liking and respecting each other but there are no obligatory romantic sparks between them. Likewise for Casey Affleck and Elisha Dushku-who plays his step-sister.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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