Turbo, the DreamWorks film about a snail that is fast enough to race in the Indy 500, is adorable, and highly enjoyable, if you are old enough to get the jokes. For all that the film lacks in truly original story, it makes up with well-written and executed humor. This is the film’s biggest drawback. Younger audience members will miss most of the humor, and may lose interest altogether, as happened with my kid (he is 5). I should say he did love the movie, but he had a hard time sitting through it. That could also be due in large to the 3D. 3D is not great to young children, so I would recommend avoiding that gimmick; it doesn’t help this movie much.
The story, shares remarkable similarities to Pixar’s Ratatouille, While I don’t enjoy drawing similarities, at times it felt as though the scripts were identical, with a few basic changes, so the comparison is unavoidable. The ambitious garden snail Theo, aka Turbo (Ryan Reynolds), is an avid racing fan, and hold aspirations to become a racer himself. That ambition is frequently the subject of ridicule among his peers, and ultimately leads to his running away. After a series of near misses on the highway, Turbo finds himself on the hood of a turbocharged street racer. During the race, the supercharger sucks him into the engine where he is doused with Nitrous Oxide.
Now instead of killing him, it mutates his DNA, granting him an array of car-like abilities. This leads to his being exiled with his best friend Chet (Paul Giamatti), who are captured by Tito (Michael Peña), an ambitious Taco truck driver with an affinity for racing snails. This ultimately leads to the Indianapolis 500 where Turbo, and his friends Smoove Move (Snoop Dogg), Burn (Maya Rudolph), Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson), Skidmark (Ben Schwartz), and White Shadow (Michael Bell), aspire to race against the top driver Guy Gagne (Bill Hader). Turbo’s owner Tito, and his friends, Paz (Michelle Rodriguez), Bobby (Richard Jenkins), and Kim-Ly (Ken Jeong), hope to win big to save their businesses in the long forgotten Starlight Plaza in LA.
This film has a lot of heart. It is well animated, and written, while not entirely original or innovative, it is entertaining. It also appears it will have a Netflix original series spinoff, Netflix’s first original series for children, set to release in December of this year.
I would give this 3.5 out of 5, but will bump it up to 4 out of 5 for a good Utah joke.