Directed by David Soren - Written by Darren Lemke, Robert D. Siegel, David Soren - Produced by Susan Slagle Rogers, Lisa Stewart - Starring Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Samuel L. Jackson, Luis Guzmán, Bill Hader, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez
One of the most amazing things about the realm of animated films is that anything is truly possible within them. Through collaboration, artists can depict aliens deep in intergalactic combat or show a myriad of different foods falling from the sky of a small town and, in a way, you'd believe it was actually happening. That's why when there are animated films that have uninspired or uninteresting concepts to them, I feel a little cheated, knowing that they could be so much more. Due to this mindset I couldn't help but groan last year when I heard that DreamWorks, an animation juggernaut responsible for such opuses of the imagination as The Prince of Egypt and Rise of The Guardians, would be making Turbo, a movie about a snail racing in the Indy 500. I thought the film would be nothing more than trite, simply a means to market toys and cater to the lowest common denominator of the child demographic. However, much to my surprise, the film turned out to have more thought to it than I would've initially thought possible given the premise.
The story itself revolves around a garden snail named Theo (Voiced by Ryan Reynolds), who despite biology's best wishes, wants nothing more than to be fast and live a life of adventure. Oddly enough, things actually manage to go his way when he ends up drowned in Nitrous Oxide from a racing car and, instead of doing the logical thing and dying right then and there, is gifted with the ability to move at mach speeds. He finds his way into the hands of a taco shop curator who just happens to race snails with the fellow employees in his shopping center. Impressed by his speed, the two set off to enter the snail into the Indy 500.
One of the main things that I couldn't shake from this film was just how many moments were mimicking those of other animated films. For example, much of the main events that occur at the race track of the Indy 500 seem like they are taken straight out of Pixar's Cars. Interestingly enough, though, the film that Turbo seems to borrow the most from is Pixar's Ratatouille. It seems hard to believe that a film starring a racing snail would have more in common with one about a cooking snail than anything else, but both involve animals who idolize a human they've seen on television, wish to do something that seems outrageous given their species, and end up finding a human companion who helps them realize their dream. The film does have a few stand out moments, such as the dry comments of Paul Giamatti playing Theo's brother who is begrudgingly dragged on for the ride, and a group of racing snails led by one voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, who may have been type-casted into the "yelling nonsense for comedic effect" category by this point, but it still managed to bring a smile to my face. The real downside of Turbo, though, is the lack of original content. We've seen these characters and scenarios before, and I felt myself more often pining for those films than being interested in the one I was watching. Ultimately, Turbo is a better film than I initially gave it credit for being, but I do find it to be skip-able if you're an adult fan of animation and not a parent or older sibling looking to take their child out for a decent animated flick.
See it: If you have kids and you want to see a decent flick about snails, racing, or a high pitched Paul Giamatti... Turbo will be just your speed.
Pass: If you're a bit tired of cliches and only require the most original and mature of animated films, because there's no need to rush for this flick.
JUMP TO SCORE REVIEW