Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review 186: "Turbo"

"Yeah I'm crazy! What made you think I was sane?"

Snail Male

      There are a couple of reviewing cliches you might have heard of. The first is that you can make a good movie out of anything and the second that there are no such things as bad ideas, only bad executions of ideas. Yes, they are cliches, but they aren't any less true. And it can be hard to keep those rules in mind. Take for example Turbo, a movie about a snail that falls into a car engine and is then given car superpowers, including super speed, which he uses to compete in the Indy 500. Yeah, that's a lot to buy into. Directed by David Soren (Merry Madagascar) and written by Soren, as well as Darren Lemke (Jack the Giant Slayer) and Robert D. Siegel (The Wrestler). It follows Turbo (Ryan Reynolds), a snail with dreams of racing in the Indy 500, who gets his chance after a freak accident leaves him with super speed. While his doubtful brother Chet (Paul Giamatti) doubts, he teams up with Tito (Michael Pena) and fellow snails Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson), Burn (Maya Rudolph), Smoove Move (Snoop Dogg), Skidmark (Ben Schwartz) and White Shadow (Michael Patrick Bell) in order to beat race Guy Gagne (Bill Hader).

That's just beautiful.
For a Movie About a Racing Snail

      Okay, so yeah, the story seems a little bit extremely crazy. But, the filmmakers found a foolproof way of making this movie. By ripping off Ratatouille and Cars! It's not really that bad, but it is pretty noticeable. Replace rats with snails, cooking with racing and take the third act of Cars and you get the basic structure of Turbo. But, for what it is, yeah, it's not bad. The key thing about Turbo is that it's likable. I find it hard to believe that anyone could outright hate this movie. It's completely harmless and good for kids, so why not? The cast does a great job. Reynolds gets his charm through voice acting and Giamatti is great as the brother. The rest of the characters don't get a ton to do, but they all get a good amount of laughs, making for an enjoyable movie. But it is Bill Hader who takes the movie as a terrifically over-the-top villain. The lengths he goes to in order to win are so hilariously insane that he alone gives the film a majority of it's laughs. There is enough here to keeps kids entertained and adults from not falling asleep, so that's good. 

Gotta Go Fast

      The movie does have some problems though. The pacing is a bit too quick for there to really be time to connect with the characters. The film rarely dwells on something for more than a few minutes, and while it all looks great, thanks to some of Dreamworks best animation, and is fun, You'd wish it slow down. It almost feels like there was more of the second act, where Turbo competed in other races and Gagne was made more of a villain and the other snails actually did stuff. But, instead, the movie just dives right into the Indy 500. It works fine, but some more build-up would have been nice. And, know, I know kids movies are typically places to look for exposition and science, but still, I would have liked to have learned how this all works. How did Turbo falling into a nitrous container give him super speed? Why does he have other car-like traits, like blinkers and a radio? At one point, we see that the other snails all have rockets built into their shells. How? Who built that stuff for them? They're basically Transformers. How does that work? Oh well,  maybe the sequel TV series will explain it. Oh, yeah, Netflix order Turbo: F.A.S.T., a cartoons series available on Netflix Instant in December. The more you know.

Insert Sonic Joke Here.
The Verdict

      Turbo is another fine entry in  Dreamworks Animation's growing library of films. It certainly isn't as bad as many would have believed. That's thanks is most part to strong performances, especially from Reynolds and Hader and a sense of humor that keeps the movie fun. Together with some great animation, and it's a pretty fun ride. Though, you need to get past the overly-slick pacing and lack of development first to get to that fun. I might not remember Turbo and his pals in a few weeks, but I certainly won't mind returning to their world. Turbo gets 4 stars out of 6.

No comments:

Post a Comment