Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Just after the release of highly anticipated animated movies ‘Monsters University' and ‘Despicable Me 2’, DreamWorks Animation has promptly rolled out ‘Turbo’, a humble “don’t stop believing” story about a garden snail with the impossible dream of racing on the tracks.
Going against the way of snail life, Theo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) yearns to go fast.
It spends its nights ogling race cars from Indy 500 race footage, and its days reluctantly waiting for food to fall, all while living with its overly cautious snail peers and pessimistic older brother, Chet (voiced by Paul Giamatti).
After a bad brush with a lawnmower while trying to reach a ripe tomato, Theo is chided by big brother Chet again for having a silly dream to race, and feeling disheartened, wanders away from home.
By accident, Theo is swept up into the engine of a drag-race car, where it is engulfed in nitrous oxide, giving it some sort of superpower.
Theo, or ‘Turbo’ as it now prefers to be called after acquiring serious speed, befriends Tito (voiced by Michael Pena), a taco shop owner with equally big dreams. They take a road trip to Indianapolis with hopes of winning the coveted Indy 500 race.
While the plot remains painfully safe, it is well-paced and car-like characteristics are cleverly moulded into Turbo’s body, making them a visual feast for the young ones.
Add to that a peek into the realities of a snail’s life, where they are trodden on daily and easily forgotten, and you have a quite a warm recipe for an underdog story.
This is no measly sounding snail movie. You might head out 90 minutes later surprised that the little creatures did pull at your heartstrings, especially if you’re young (at heart), a dreamer, easy to please or all of the above.
While Reynolds really didn’t add much flavour to Turbo’s character, “co-stars” such as Samuel Jackson, Snoop Lion and Michael Bell’s ace voice performances help to pull through the dips in the film.
For a film aiming to delight a young audience, it does its job well. Children will adore the first-hand race vision, bright lights and colourful snails with slick speed. The healthy dose of sharp but friendly humour is also entertaining enough for ‘Turbo’ not to steer into cliche central.