Turbo review

David Soren
Ryan Reynolds
Paul Giamatti
Michael Pena
Samuel Jackson
Ken Jeong
Michelle Rodriguez
Maya Rudolph
Rated: PG

What a random concept to base a film around.

“Turbo” follows the title character played by Ryan Reynolds. Turbo is a garden snail living an uneventful life with his brother, Chet (Giamatti) near a number of tomato plants. Turbo has dreams of being fast and racing in the Indy 500, however, obviously, he has little chance to do so. That is until an accident that has Turbo falling into a car engine and getting blasted with the NOS that is seen in “Fast and Furious” franchise movies.

After this happens, Turbo inherits super speed that leaves a trail of blue light behind him. Through a series of events, Turbo and Chet come into contact with a group of other snails led by Whiplash (Jackson) as well as a taco vendor named Tito (Pena) who wants to race the super snail in the actual Indy 500.

Turbo’s plot is very predictable and doesn’t attempt to do anything that can really hit on emotional notes. The film sets up the super power, then has the struggle to get into the Indy 500 and ends with the race, and it all goes by faster than the super fast snail. The movie thankfully doesn’t drag on and isn’t overlong and the story is easy enough to get into, the sad fact is that it just doesn’t offer anything in terms of real substance.

Even the message they were trying to get through came across as a little muddled. In the 2008 movie “Kung Fu Panda,” the message came across very nicely that it’s what’s on the inside that counts sort of thing. It seems like “Turbo” was trying to have somewhat of a similar message along with don’t give up on your dreams, the only problem with the whole thing is that the only reason Turbo had a chance at his dreams is the plot device that gave him superpowers.

The characters feel uninspired and the voice acting seems phoned in. Turbo could be a fairly interesting protagonist, however, he has to compete for screen time with the other stereotyped characters who make second rate jokes every couple of minutes.

What’s worse is that Reynolds rarely puts his heart and soul into the production.

The other protagonist, Tito, shares a similar problem in that he is sort of overwhelmed by the number of supporting characters. The movie could have probably worked better if they had cut some of the character, for example, either get rid of the human team that accompanies Tito or the group of snails that accompany Turbo. It probably would have really helped since the movie is only one and half hours long and doesn’t offer any time to develop the characters any further.

There is a nice parallel with the two protagonists Turbo and Tito and their respective brothers, who have a lack of faith in the chances at the Indy 500. But this brother relationship doesn’t offer anything to play at heartstrings like the father-son relationship in “How to Train Your Dragon” did. Even Paul Giamatti, who usually is strong, just comes across as not really invested in what was going on.

The worst part is that the humor just doesn’t resonate a lot. Ken Jeong was in the film, voicing an old asian woman, and just does his high pitched voice and plays a crazy character the same way he has been doing for nearly four years. It’s getting really old. The rest of the comedy is like this too, basically just relying on characters acting quirky or like stereotypes.

The animation is just OK. The races do look nice at times, however they don’t make up a gigantic portion of the film’s runtime. For the rest of the 90 minutes, there really doesn’t appear to be anything breathtaking on screen that will make a person say ‘wow.’ Even the character designs seem a bit over exaggerated.

Dreamworks had been on a roll for a while. The “Kung Fu Panda” series, “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Megamind” and “Rise of the Guardians” were all very enjoyable and pushed the bar a bit to be able to compete with the likes of Pixar, however, “Turbo” just doesn’t. There’s nothing special or memorable about this feature. “Turbo” is comparable to an earlier film this year, “Epic,” in that it isn’t really bad per say, but there’s really nothing there. This is just another animated film that will fall by the way side and won’t stand the test of time. 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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