"No dream is too big, and no dreamer is too small" - Guy Gagné
The story of the underdog isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Having a film with the premise of a super-sonic snail that can match the speed of an Indy 500 racecar is proof of that. As ridiculous as that may sound, it’s a workable idea—although it may fall back on traditional storylines to drive the tale across the finish line. That’s essentially what we’re given with this high-octane adventure of a snail that looked to the sky, dreamed of speed, and granted its wish. It may not be the freshest entry for the DreamWorks canon, but Turbo succeeds in delivering family-friendly entertainment with the most polar-extreme retelling of The Tortoise and the Hare yet.
Theo is a garden snail. A simple life, really—tending tomatoes and keeping out of the sights of circling crows—but at night, all Theo can think about is being fast. Having access to a TV tuned to the Indy 500 doesn’t help, or Guy Gagné, the racer that Theo looks up to the most. Then it happened, a freak accident that grants Theo a speed unparalleled to snail-kind. When fate sends him into the hands of a humble taco merchant, Theo has the opportunity to turn a rundown mini-mall around by entering the Indy 500 himself. That’s when Turbo enters the scene, but does he have the guts and the stamina to win a championship meant for cars, or will he get run over?
Ryan Reynolds voices the titular character and does a fantastic job of giving Theo many flawed qualities that he has to overcome. The rest of the star-studded cast adds the right amount of flavor and support to carry the story along until the big race that will have viewers on the edge of their seat (care to see a race from a snail’s perspective?—kinda terrifying if you think about it). Smooth and stylish animation, with plenty of vibrant colors, gives the eyes something to look forward to with each scene, and there’s enough humor to maintain smiles on the most skeptical.
A few drawbacks took away from what could’ve been a wildly original film, borrowing heavily from fairly recent animated films. Many drew the conclusion that Turbo was merely Cars with snails—and I didn’t think much of that until Theo met the rundown mini-mall and its struggling-for-business owners. Sound familiar? Theo also looks up to a mentor on TV, a Frenchman, who tells him “no dream is too big, and no dreamer is too small”—similar to a certain rat-chief movie we know and love—to which this mentor ends up being the antagonist, like a certain rogue explorer who owned way too many dogs and HAD to capture an exotic bird. A little borrowing never hurt anyone—borrow too much and folks start to notice. All these elements bring Theo to the racetrack where the story really kicks in, accounting for only 20 minutes of a 96 minute film.
There’s also a fairly good soundtrack that frequently detours into melodramatic areas, as if to prompt a “you should be emotional for the character right now” reaction from the audience, rather than trusting the audience to feel however they’d think they should at any given moment.
There’s much to like about Turbo, and fans of racing and quirky storylines will find their home in this journey of nitro-injected es-car-GO, but too many borrowed ideas do take away from the suspense of disbelief as it reminds viewers all too much of previously enjoyed animated fair. Even so, it’s a sure-fire family film that has enough to keep both parents and kids entertained. Turbo may lag around the track, but in the end, it manages to cross the finish line.
Cosmic Cruller Rating:
What do you think about this movie? Too far-fetched? Have you seen it? Plan to? What's your favorite racing movie?
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