Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Turbo" Fails to Excite

DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo tells the story of Theo, a small garden snail with large ambitions. His role model, Guy Gagne, inspires him to become a racer, even though Theo is ridiculed for his unrealistic dreams. After a freak accident involving Nitrous Oxide, Theo’s DNA and life will never be the same. After meeting several friends along the way, he and his human friend Tito start on a journey to win the Indianapolis 500 race, despite the discouragement put forth by their down-to-Earth brothers.

Upon first glance, Turbo appears to be a sort of Ratatouille and Cars hybrid. After watching the movie, it comes true, as it features the same themes as the former and the environmental themes of the latter. DreamWorks effectively creates parallels between the two pairs of brothers – Theo and Chet; Tito and Angelo. However, it doesn’t do much else with them and the brotherly bond subplot, among many others, is lost in the wind due to its lack of development. Part of the reason for this is that the cast is made up of far too many characters. It gets to the point that the majority of the characters play too minor a part to justify development or a connection with the audience.

Children might find joy and excitement in watching Turbo, thanks to its flashy visuals – highlighted by a minor race sequence and Turbo’s neon-blue trail. Its auto-tuned song, “The Snail is Fast”, might have children singing it upon leaving the theatre, but may only serve to annoy the rest of us. Turbo attempts to introduce humour a few times with the crows, tomatoes, and snail crew, but unfortunately falls short every time.

One thing that older viewers may notice is the extremely blatant product placement. Branding on cars is perfectly understandable (although avoidable), but DreamWorks probably could have made the same movie without a Verizon-branded phone or HP-branded laptops.

A few plot-holes are present in the movie, namely the over-dramatized “permission to race” sequence – Tito mentions earlier on in the film that snails can race in the Indy 500 – so why make such a big deal out of it? DreamWorks also feels the need to run an extremely minor and useless romance subplot in the background of the entire movie – for no reason except to maybe entertain younger audiences.

DreamWorks had a juicy premise with Turbo, but instead of fleshing out the characters and plot, nothing substantial is delivered, and Turbo never makes it to the finish line. 

Turbo: C-

Opening Date: 17 July 2013
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Production: DreamWorks Animation SKG
Voices: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Samuel L. Jackson, Luis Guzmán, Bill Hader
Director: David Soren
Writers: David Soren, Robert Siegel, Darren Lemke
Story: Ennio Torresan, Jr.
Producer: Lisa Stewart
Co-Producer: Susan Rogers
Production Designer: Michael Isaak
Editor: James Ryan
Music: Henry Jackman

Rated PG, 96 minutes.