Director: David Soren
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Pena, Bill Hader, Snoop Dogg, Michelle Rodriguez, Luis Guzman, Richard Jenkins
Written by: Darren Lemke, Robert D. Siegel and David Soren
Running Time: 96 mins
Release date: 17th October 2013
Turbo is the new animation from Dreamworks about a snail that is fast and takes on humans at the Indianapolis 500. Yes, I know, it’s an incredibly silly notion and not the most original story line either but what it lacks in originality it makes up for it in so many other ways and in the process, shows just how off their game Disney is at the moment.
Theo is an ordinary garden snail with a big dream. He idolizes Guy Gagné, a French racing star of the Indianapolis 500 and longs to be a racer himself. His life working a tomato patch alongside his safety conscious brother, Chet, has him wanting to push his dull life in the fast lane. One night, while out and about, he is accidentally sucked into the engine of a nitro-fueled car that he swallows, heading into his blood stream and making him incredibly fast. Thrown out of the garden by his fellow snails, he is discovered by dim-witted Mexican, Tito, who sees the potential in Theo, now called Turbo, enters him into the Indy 500.
Now you may be reading the plot and thinking, “that is ridiculous!” and you wouldn’t be wrong. It also takes the same lines as Ratatouille with a dash of Cars and sprinkles the usual moralising that you find in most animated family features (dream big and you will succeed, brotherly love, that sort of thing). It also has really high production values, which you would expect from the studio that brought Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar. What this film does bring is an enormous sense of fun, as if feature debut director David Soren knows the story is ludicrous but is going to inject as much entertainment for both adults and children alike.
The animation is top-notch, particularly the backgrounds (the night scene on the streets with cars racing down the highway is especially effective) while the snails are cute and bog-eyed. Brightly coloured, it will keep the kids quiet for an hour and a half while it offers so much for the adults. In fact, the adults in the screening I attended were laughing more than the little ones. The humour, in places, is surprisingly dark, with neat touches of satire.
Add to the enjoyment is an array of vocal talents that really do bring depth to the characters. Ryan Reynolds, as the title character, has enough charm to make him likeable while Paul Giamatti is perfect as his brother. The collection of snails who befriend Turbo are fun, from Snoop Dogg and Maya Ruldoph to the ultra-cool Samuel L. Jackson. There’s also a neat nod to the Fast And Furious films with the inclusion of Michelle Rodriguez as a car mechanic. a pity Richard Jenkins, as a hobby shop owner, was used more but you can’t have everything.
While this is completely disposable fun and probably will be forgettable after a few hours, it works a charm while it’s running and as you laugh along to the insane story, which has a finale that really does bring a sense of tension to it, you start to question what is going on with Disney. Compared to their last effort, the woefully lazy Planes, this is a masterpiece and while it might not be up there with the greats, it’s a far more impressive film than anything the house of Mouse has produced recently. They better look out otherwise they might find themselves lagging so behind that it might be hard for them to ever get the magic back.
Turbo shouldn’t be looked upon as just another kids film. It has plenty for anyone to enjoy and I haven’t had this much fun in a cartoon since Despicable Me 2. That is a huge compliment.