Review: Turbo / Cert: U / Director: David Soren / Screenplay: Various / Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Bill Hader, Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson / Release Date: October 18th
2013 has been a rather disappointing year for animated films, and Turbo sadly continues this trend. The latest effort from DreamWorks Animation, Turbo features an all-star cast, but ultimately fails to deliver in the emotional, character, and story departments.
Theo (Reynolds) detests the way of life that his fellow snails have resigned themselves to. More than anything, he wants to be a famous racer, but unfortunately, that's not exactly in the cards for a garden snail. But after a near-fatal accident endows him with new-found speed, Theo realizes that his dream of racing in the Indianapolis 500 is within reach. But what does five-time winner Guy Gagne (Hader) have to say about that? Theo will have to rely on more than just his incredible speed to win against such overwhelming odds.
Ryan Reynolds leads a talented but largely uninspired cast, his sluggish performance failing to keep up with his character's breakneck pace. Paul Giamatti falls flat as Theo's on-screen brother, Chet, who is supposed to serve as Theo's plucky support but instead just comes off as annoying and unnecessary. Pretty much the entire cast, including Bill Hader as Guy Gagne, Michael Pena as the taco truck driver, Tito, and Samuel L. Jackson as the smooth racing snail, Whiplash, fails to exude enough charisma for anyone to connect with them on even the most shallow level.
The film starts off just as slow and unexciting as its titular character, and ends the exact same way. Long periods of dull exchanges between characters are occasionally punctuated by brief moments of excitement, moments that come and go as quickly as racers speed around the track. The awful dialogue and lack of character development undercut any emotional resonance that viewers could salvage from this wreck of a movie, things that could have been fixed if the filmmakers had been more careful and more patient. The film's premise is not entirely original, but it definitely piqued our interest, and it's a shame that the execution left much to be desired.
Despite its numerous flaws, the film looks great. The animation is top-notch, the environments are meticulously detailed, and it's clear that the filmmakers put more love into the film's aesthetics than in the aspects that actually matter.
Sadly, Turbo is forgettable, soulless family fare, and might be a sign that DreamWorks is dipping in quality much like Pixar has for the last two years. Here's to hoping their next animated effort is a giant step up.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10