TURBO HAS ITS MILDLY HUMOROUS MOMENTS BUT UNLIKE PIXAR OR PREVIOUS DREAMWORKS EFFORTS, IT WILL PRESENT LITTLE APPEAL TO ANYONE OVER THE AGE OF FIVE
Director: David Soren
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Pena, Bill Hader, Louis Guzman, Richard Jenkins, Michelle Rodriguez Ken Jeong and Snoop Dog
Studio: Dreamworks Animation
Length: 1 Hr and 36 Min
Pixar is considered Hollywood’s reigning heavyweight when it comes to computer animated features; and with good reason. But Dreamworks Studios is a more than solid second, responsible for the enormously successful Shrek and Madagascar franchises, the brilliant How To Train Your Dragon and this years The Croods, a movie that not only debuted strong, but whose persistent success (it was still attracting movie goers four months after it opened in March) convinced Dreamworks to schedule a sequel for a 2017 release. So suffice to say that they know a thing or two about cranking out successful animated features, ones that make the grown-ups laugh right along with the kids (though usually for different reasons). Which makes Turbo just a little more disappointing. While this tale about a supersonic snail has its cute moments, it falls flat with anyone whose daily curriculum no longer includes nap time.
Theo (Ryan Reynolds, a busy boy who stars in the science fiction-comedy R.I.P.D also released this weekend-and who voiced the forward thinking homo-sapien Guy in the aforementioned The Croods) is a speedster who dreams to be a race car driver. He rushes home from work to watch it every night on a banged up old TV in the garage, he collects VHS tapes on racing and idolizes the sport’s current franchise celebrity, French Canadian driving sensation Guy Gagne (Bill Hader). The problem is Theo is a snail, and work is the local garden where he and his fellow slugs eat the overripe, unwanted tomatoes that fall of the vine. Chet (Paul Giamatti) is Theo’s older brother as well as the safety manager in their garden. Despite being Theo’s exact opposite, living a life of complacent caution and acceptance, Chet has been looking out for his wide-eyed little brother their whole lives. Theo is the object of ridicule among his fellow snails until a freak accident grants him super speed. Unfortunately, before he can adequately get a handle on his new powers (which also include headlights in his eyeballs and a luminous stereo system in his shell), an accident gets him and his brother fired. The two then get caught up in a snail racing ring, run by a group of business owners who haven’t seen a paying customer since George Bush was President (George Bush Sr. that is). The desperate merchants are headed by Tito (Michael Pena), who runs a Taco restaurant with his brother Angelo (Louis Guzman), who like Chet, disapproves of is younger brother’s endless dreaming. But once Tito discovers Turbo’s amazing speed, he hatches a plan (with Turbo’s subtle prodding) to enter the super powered snail in the Indianapolis 500. Accompanied by racing snail Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson) and his posse of misfits and the reluctant Chet, Turbo soon finds himself headlining the biggest race car event in the world.
Turbo offers younger viewers a nice lesson in following their dreams despite the scorn of others as well as on sibling love and acceptance. It’ll tickle the funny bone of most toddlers and has a handful of nice little sight gags. And while Jackson’s turn as the borderline crazy Whiplash offers more than his share of laughs (then again, when have you known Jackson not to deliver, even when it’s only his voice?) Turbo just doesn’t seem to share the same heart, the same magic, as many of Dreamworks other family fare. The majority of the laughs are aimed at the half pint crowd, and while that’s fine, it’s less than what people have come to expect from Dreamworks given their impressive resume in the animated genre. And in a summer where it finds itself competing against proven properties like Pixar’s Monsters University and Universal Studios’ current box office juggernaut Despicable Me 2, Turbo will likely get lost in the animated shuffle.