STARRING: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Pena, Luis Guzman, Bill Hader, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez.
WRITTEN BY: Darren Lemke and Robert D. Siegel
DIRECTED BY: David Soren
I’ve read a lot of journalists coming down hard on Turbo this summer. It’s not as good as the other animated movies this summer, or it’s not grossing as much. They’ve been slamming Turbo since before it came out. As of this review, Turbo has made 63M at the domestic box office, and only 41M worldwide. Why is everyone so angry at a little snail?
Theo (Ryan Reynolds) is a garden-variety snail, with dreams of being the fastest snail there ever was. He watches car races on TV, and his hero is Guy Gagne (Bill Hader), a world-class racer who tells his fans that dreams can come true. Theo has his racing name already picked out, Turbo. His brother, Chet (Paul Giamatti), is growing tired of his brother living in a fantasy world. Snails are just supposed to work everyday, harvesting tomatoes, and not have any dreams of racing or moving fast. One day, a bizarre accident happens that infuses Turbo with a mixture of Nitrous Oxide, and suddenly Turbo can blast past anyone or anything. After saving his brother from the clutches of a band of crows, Turbo finds himself (and Chet) at Dos Bros Tacos, where the dreams of Tito (Michael Pena) are to save his brother’s (Luis Guzman) business. He sees Turbo as a way to get people to finally come and taste his brothers tacos.
Turbo meets up with a gang of racing snails, led by Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson), who are there to support Turbo and show him there is more than one way to win a race. While none of them have Turbo’s speed, they have been tricked out with their own special abilities. They all have the heart it takes, but Turbo has the talent to win. But Turbo still can’t convince his brother that this is the life he was meant for. It all leads up to a big race at the Indy 500, where Turbo faces his idol. Can Turbo win a race meant for cars, and save Dos Bros?
There’s a message here similar to Monsters University, about dreams never being too big. But there’s a stronger theme here, about brotherhood, and the many different kinds. There’s the brother relationship between Turbo, the snail that has the talent, and his reluctant brother Chet. Chet doesn’t believe in Turbo. It is mirrored with Tito, the brother who lacks the skills to pay the bills, who believes in his brother Angelo, but it is Angelo who, even though he has the talent, is the reluctant one. Then you have the brotherhood of Whiplash’s gang, who work as a unit, the brotherhood of the people of the stripmall who come together and raise money to race Turbo. The ringing message here is that a strong bond, and a band of brothers, can accomplish anything… together. With all the talent in the world with Turbo, it is Chet who ends up saving the day, just like Tito saves Angelo.
I suppose I can understand a little bit of the hate. It lacks the emotional punch that we’ve gotten from some of the animated films in previous years. It’s also not a laugh riot, though it does pack a few solid moments. It’s also incredibly predictable. There’s never a moment you really believe Turbo is in any real danger, but doesn’t that come in most animated films? When will the lead ever actually be killed off in a childrens film?
I think it is a perfectly decent film, and I feel about the same with Turbo as I do with Monsters University or Despicable Me 2. It’s a shame that it’s not getting the same recognition. If I had two sons, I would definitely want them to see this film. Nothing beats two brothers who work together.
FINAL GRADE: B+