Theo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) is a snail who dreams of living life in the fast lane and is inspired by his love of Indie car races to become a racer. After a bizarre accident leaves him with super-snail powers, Theo (or Turbo as he becomes known) leaves home to pursue his thirst for speed.
Unfortunately, I left the cinema thankful that the film was almost as fast as Turbo. It amazes me that DreamWorks’ Turbo was able to attract stars such as Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Giamatti and Ken Jeong, as these big names by no means reflect the credentials of the film.
Of course, despite my love for animated films, someone of my age is not within the target audience bracket. So, a better gauge of Turbo’s success is the reaction of the children at the showing. Children can be tough critics with their notoriously short attention span. On this front, there is no denying that Turbo fails. After half an hour, the patter of feet on the aisle and the murmurs followed by parents hushing their children indicates that it failed to keep them engaged.
As Turbo is an animation, one expects the content to be unrealistic. Yet, if this is done well the audience accepts the premise, without really questioning it. For example, no one knocks Toy Story because Woody, Buzz and co. come alive. Similarly, the original Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs leads people to work with the idea that a machine can make it rain food. Unfortunately, Turbo is the result of what happens when it is done poorly.
If you are questioning how Theo gets the powers you are definitely thinking about the film too deeply, the problem instead comes with the extremely tenuous link to the Indy 500. Despite the clear attempt to legitimise this by claiming there are no rules to stop a snail competing in the Indy 500, it is a real underlying problem throughout the film. Here, what originally starts as a story of a snail wanting to be fast turns into a bad attempt to replicate Pixar’s Cars in a different format.
That being said, I did find myself laughing in places, particularly at the characters White Shadow (Mike Bell) and Chet (Paul Giamatti). What’s more, as has come to be expected by DreamWorks the standard of the animation is impeccable. However, when compared to other films of this type already released this year, the likes of Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University, Turbo falls extremely short of the mark.
Turbo‘s brother Chet asks a number of times ‘Has the world lost its mind?’ Unfortunately for this film to even begin to work it would have to. For a lover of animated films, this is a prime example of a poor attempt at one, with a problematic storyline.