Director: David Soren
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Pena, Richard Jenkins
Plot: A freak accident might just help an everyday garden snail achieve his biggest dream: winning the Indy 500.
Genre: Animation / Adventure / Comedy
Rating: G for some mild action and thematic elements.
IN RETROSPECT (Guest Review by Amit Agarwal)
This film was reviewed in the 3D format.
Turbo, the latest family film from Dreamworks Animation is colourful, snappy and intermittently funny. Ok, quite funny considering how much my daughter and the rest of the kids in the theatre enjoyed it. What more can one ask of a 90 minute animated film?
At the centre of the film is a snail (Ryan Reynolds) who happens to be a die-hard NASCAR fan. He falls onto a busy motorway and gets sucked into a tank of nitrous in the engine. This transforms him into a super snail capable of zipping at over 200mph. Roughly the same kind of stuff happens to his insides, as does to say Spiderman when funny chemicals enter his bloodstream and transform him. Of course “with great powers come great responsibility”. You know the drill.
The newborn super-snail names himself Turbo and is soon alienated from his brethren who are just moving through life at, well, snail’s pace. He along with his still-slow brother Chet (Paul Giamatti) are expelled from the herd and are captured by Tito, a genial starry-eyed snail racer (Michael Peña). The snail racer runs a Mexican restaurant with his bro (Luis Guzmán), so there’s a parallel track of brotherly strife here.
Turbo and Tito have big dreams, no absurd dreams, like a snail in an actual car race and both their brothers just don’t get it. So will Turbo race in the Indianapolis 500? Will he win? To the credit of the director knowing the answers to these questions does not come in the way of the fun.
There’s plenty of cute business thrown in involving the good old slow poke snails Tito and his friends race after pimping them up. They are a diverse collection of jazzy primary colours with the voices of Samuel L. Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, and Ben Schwartz. Jackson’s rendering of Whiplash and Giamatti’s as Chet stand out and their chemistry is quite enjoyable. Lines like “What if you wake up tomorrow and your powers are gone?” may give grown-ups deja-vu but will continue to work with younger audiences.
Director David Soren, along with co-writers Darren Lemke and Robert D. Siegel assemble stock animated characters, thumping pop songs, and some smart slapstick together in a workable package that has moments of genuine creativity. The level of detail in the animation is quite impressive and worth noticing.
Turbo’s racing sequences which use 3-D to its advantage without being intrusive, drive home the thrill of racing as something bigger than, as Chet makes it out to be, “Left turn… left turn… ooh, another left turn!” Nahh bro, racing is much more than that!
Overall the film seems conspicuously merchandising-friendly and kids should be royally pestering their parents to buy them the entire snail collection comprising Turbo and gang. Although there is nothing revolutionary about Turbo’s underdog narrative it works because of its emotional beats derived from a healthy human-snail relationship.
Rating: 3.5 stars
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