Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Movie Review: Turbo



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Comedy, great story, wonderful characters
Cons: Story is predictable (but you’ll have so much fun you won’t care)
The Bottom Line:
Ordinary snail
With extraordinary speed
Laughs and fun for all



A Garden Snail with a Need for Speed

I didn’t get to the theater as much as usual in 2013, so I’m catching up via rentals now.  One of those I missed was Turbo, and it was well worth watching.

The story follows the adventures of a snail who dreams of racing.  And yes, we’re talking car racing.  Not only does Turbo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) stay up nights watching tapes of races; it interferes with his day job of corralling the rotten tomatoes his co-workers send down from the vines.

One day, an accident infuses him with the one thing he craves, speed.  Then he finds himself in the possession of a taco truck driver, Tito (Michael Pena), who thinks that Turbo just might be the way to get his brother’s taco stand notice.  Will it work?

Obviously, this animated delight has no basis in reality – especially in the final act when Turbo, as a snail, fulfills a dream of racing cars.  But you know what?  I didn’t care.

Why is that?  The film is filled with delightful characters from start to finish.  While Turbo and his brother Chet (Paul Giamatti) have their disagreements, they do obviously still care for each other.  In fact, I loved how their relationship mirrored that of Tito and his brother Angelo (Luis Guzman).  The other owners of the shops in the strip mall where much of the action takes place are fun as are the other racing snails in the complex.  I truly loved all of them and enjoyed spending time with them.

The voice talent is wonderful.  Whether famous or not, the only voice I recognized was Samuel L. Jackson, but it fit the character so perfectly I didn’t find it a distraction at all.  The actors did what they needed to do, allow me to get lost in the story.

So how lost in the story did I get?  During the climax, I was so into it I found myself yelling at the screen.  Yes, I knew how the story would end (it is fairly predictable), but in that moment it didn’t matter.  Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t get to catch this one in the theaters after all.

And I can’t leave out the comedy.  While the premise may be crazy, the execution is perfect, and I couldn’t help but laugh the entire way through.  The scene where Turbo first discovers his changes is especially funny.

DreamWorks Animation is a mix of stylized and realistic.  This one ventured more toward the realistic side of things with several beautiful shots throughout the film that come close to rivaling Pixar at their best.  One key scene takes place in the Los Angeles River (don’t get me started on that drainage ditch), and I recognized it.  This was before I knew the setting was the LA suburbs, and I was pretty excited with my catch.

Turbo was delightful from start to finish and I’m sorry I didn’t get to see it sooner.  Don’t let this one race by without stopping to enjoy it yourself.

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