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Turbo is a snail who dreams of being the greatest racer in the world, just like his hero: 5-time Indianapolis 500 champ, Guy Gagne. His obsession with speed and all things fast has made him an oddity and outsider in the slow and cautious snail community and a constant embarrassment to his careful older brother, Chet. Turbo desperately wishes he could escape the slow-paced life he's living. As luck would have it, he gets that chance one fateful day after a freak accident when he suddenly finds himself vested with the power of incredible speed. Turbo embarks on an extraordinary journey to achieve the impossible: racing against the best that IndyCar has to offer. Turbo is the ultimate underdog who achieves the impossible by refusing to let his limitations get in the way of his dreams.

Genres: Animated, Comedy, Action/Adventure
Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes
Release Date: July 17, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG (for some mild action and thematic element)

Cast And Credits
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Luis Guzman, Bill Hader
Directed by: David Soren
Produced by: David Soren

Turbo” is a new movie from DreamWorks Animation Studios about a little snail with a big dream. It is also the latest animated feature to use an animal’s frustration with the limitations of his species as a metaphor for human aspirations. Much as the rat Remy in “Ratatouille” did not want to eat garbage, and Mumble the penguin in “Happy Feet” wanted to dance, so does Turbo â€" given name Theo, voice courtesy of Ryan Reynolds â€" long to move fast.

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This leads to some amusingly realized visual gags, including a race with a lawn mower. Needless to say, the other snails in the tomato patch, governed by a grim, unvarying, slime-trailed routine and subject to random crow attacks, do not respect Theo’s ambitions. The chief naysayer is his brother, Chet (Paul Giamatti), who makes a persuasive case against the idea that a garden pest might do something like compete in the Indianapolis 500.

But this is America! Anything is possible, including that millions of parents and children might flock to this adequate morsel of committee-produced entertainment. They don’t call it DreamWorks for nothing. But it is interesting to note that a movie strenuously preaching the virtue of being different should be so fundamentally â€" so deliberately, so timidly â€" just like everything else of its kind. Yes, there has never been a 3-D cartoon about a snail before, though there have been a handful of charming children’s picture books about snails, including Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold’s heart-rending “Gluey.

Still, even in the absence of originality, there is fun to be had, thanks to some loopy, clever jokes (the script is by Darren Lemke, Robert Siegel and David Soren, who directed) and a lively celebrity voice cast that also includes Samuel L. Jackson, Michelle Rodriguez, Ken Jeong, Maya Rudolph, Richard Jenkins, Michael Peña and Luis Guzmán. (Not a lot of women on that list, you’ll notice â€" true to formula once again.)

Mr. Peña and Mr. Guzmán play Tito and Angelo, brothers who run a taco truck near a run-down strip mall in Los Angeles. They and the owners of the other businesses â€" a nail salon, a hobby store and an auto repair shop â€" cannot seem to attract customers, and Tito hits on a foolproof plan. If Theo can enter and win Indy with the sponsorship of the mall’s tenants, all their problems will be solved.

It should go without saying that Theo, in becoming Turbo, has acquired automotive superpowers and is able to accelerate to racetrack speeds in his shell, without the aid of wheels or gasoline. Like Remy the rat, he is beguiled and disappointed by a French-accented idol, a racing champion voiced by Bill Hader. The film’s climax is a 200-lap showdown between them.

It’s all very rousing in the usual way, but “Turbo” leaves a slightly sour aftertaste, and not only because of its own brave choice of mediocrity over excellence. Why, you wonder, should it be necessary for a snail to win the world’s most famous car race? Wouldn’t competing be impressive enough? I’m sort of kidding, but there is something sad about the idea that a group of hard-working entrepreneurs can hope to succeed only by cutting a deal with the hyper-commercial, winner-take-all forces of celebrity and global media. The rest of us will be picked off by the crows or served up in garlic butter.


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