Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Pena, Samuel L. Jackson, Luis Guzman, Bill Hader, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, Ben Schwartz, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez
Running Time: 96 Minutes
A snail wants to be superstar racer. It’s the kind of pitch that could be generated in a studio meeting along with countless other [blank] wants to be [blank]. A penguin wants to be a pilot. A worm wants to be a foot model. A tortoise doesn’t want to be a home owner. Anyone with an ounce of a brain could come up with non-stop plots for life based on the formula of something not being able to do a certain activity and their struggle to prove everyone else wrong. Another word would be “lazy”, and although TURBO isn’t a complete right-off, the plot truly holds the entire film back.
Ryan Reynolds voices the titular shelled hero that craves the fast paced world of snail racing. Unfortunately, he’s just a common garden snail who has a job to do. Now then, had the film just focused on snail racing, there would have been a lot of fun to be had in watching the ridiculously slow sequences, but instead Turbo receives superfast powers after a strange accident that results in him competing in the Indy 500. This of course leads to a number of fast paced sequences, but it also pushes the limits of common sense. On top of that, does anybody actually like snails? I can’t imagine the merchandise being a huge hit with kids, but I’ve been wrong before.
The cookie cutter plot fails to engage because unless this is your first movie, you’ve probably seen it before. A bunch of voice actors are also wheeled out for their star power, suitable for the part or not. Giamatti, Jackson, and Guzman all have very clear and recognisable voices, but they hardly add anything new to their roles, resulting in performances that sound like simple script readings. Even Ken Jeong is recogniseable, and he plays an Asian woman. When you have Reynolds, Jeong, and Hader, who have all given vocal performances in other animated films from the last year, there’s a distinct sense of familiarity that does TURBO no favours.
The humour lacks subtlety and really pushes forward a bunch of snail related gags easily found in any kids’ joke book, but sometimes the simplicity adds to the chuckles. I’ll admit, a childish sense of humour is no crime and there were a few moments to giggle at. The bright colours and animation style are also a treat for the eyes, with even the mundane garden scenes being brought to life in interesting ways.
TURBO plays things very safe, but the plot reeks of a world of writers running out of ideas. The final message is one to be applauded though, and even though this is about a snail, it is 10 times the film Pixar’s CARS was. A quick flitter of distraction for a younger audience, it will be surprising if adults get any more out of it.
[usr=2]TURBO is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 10th February.