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article imageReview: 'Turbo' is a shell of a surprise Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 17, 2013 in Entertainment
In ‘Turbo’, a freak accident helps an average garden snail realize his biggest dream: racing against his idol in the Indy 500.
The promotion, or even the concept, for a film can be deceiving. Sometimes marketers have trouble deciding how to sell certain movies to audiences, or the picture just looks plain bad, which is an accurate predictor more often than not. But there are rare occasions in spite of any (or all) of the above in which the reality is a pleasant surprise. Turbo is one of these exceptions.
Theo (Ryan Reynolds) is an outcast among his snail brethren. His brother Chet (Paul Giamatti) tries to keep him on the beaten path, but Theo is obsessed with racing and Nascar. When an accident grants Theo super speed, he becomes Turbo — the world's fastest snail. Picked for a snail race by Dos Bros Tacos co-founder Tito (Michael Peña), Turbo finds a fellow dreamer who will help him accomplish his goal of racing in the Indy 500.
As absurd as it all sounds, it's actually an incredibly enjoyable experience. However, it's up for debate whether the kids will enjoy it as much as the adults that accompany them. As the older viewers howled with laughter, many of the children in the audience remained silent. But they can't be expected to understand how auto tuning can be an apt and hilarious joke, or why "The Eye of the Tiger" at that moment of the film was perfectly uproarious. Though they did enjoy the more straightforward humor about the overweight snail who couldn't tuck into his shell.
DreamWorks Animation developed some fantastically entertaining characters for this picture. Turbo's belief and determination are contagious and easily gets the audience in his corner. Chet's constant worrying and naysayer attitude is a regular dose of real world cynicism. Already considered crazy by his brother (a perfectly cast Luis Guzman), Tito is unnaturally cheery and the ideal partner for a bug with aspirations. And the crew of other racing snails, led by Samuel L. Jackson, is a collection of modern day gear heads and adrenalin junkies that talk big and flaunt their tricked-out shells.
DreamWorks Animation
Still, there is nothing especially cute about this movie. White Shadow may inspire some inside jokes, but he's not really going to sell any merchandise — an obvious consideration in the development of most recent cartoons. Instead, focus was placed on giving the basic underdog narrative a twist and populating it with entertaining, if not lovable, characters. Audiences are expected to turn a blind eye to some details, like the general lack of slimy residue or the snails' ability to get to a given location in a timely manner in spite of earlier references to their extreme slowness.
The soundtrack is a mix of '80s and '90s pop music, ranging from Run D.M.C. to House of Pain. It also includes two songs from ensemble cast member Snoop Dogg. But the highlight is without a doubt Turbo's theme song, "That Snail is Fast." Don't be surprised if it's an unexpected earworm days later.
The immediate comparison is Cars, but this movie is smarter and less coy about the adult-targeted humour.
Director: David Soren
Starring: (voices of) Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti and Samuel L. Jackson
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