Monday, August 5, 2013

Movie Review: Turbo

Do you like Ratatouille, Cars, and Herbie: Fully Loaded?  Have you ever thought to yourself, "Gee, I wish I could watch all of these movies at the same time?"  Well, have I got the film for you!

In Dreamworks' latest film Turbo, our titular snail wants nothing more than to be a famous racer in the Indy 500.  Inspired by watching his favorite racer Guy Gagne on television,  Turbo (actually named Theo) spends all of his time fantasizing about leaving his mundane life in the garden behind and blazing around the racetrack at lightning speed.  Unfortunately, being a snail and all, he's a little disadvantaged in the speed department.  But that all changes when his body accidentally becomes infused with nitrous oxide.  Suddenly Turbo is, as one of the film's characters so cleverly quips, "Slo no mo!"

You've seen this movie before.  You'll probably know exactly where the story is going from the moment the film begins.  But, similar to movies like Kung-Fu Panda which also feature well-worn plots, Turbo doesn't let the familiarity of its story drag it down.  Instead, it populates its world with sincere and appealing characters and embraces the strengths of the cliches its story employs.  It also largely manages to avoid the kinds of potty humor, cheap jokes, and pop culture references so ubiquitous with animated kids films these days.

 Turbo himself is quite capable of carrying the film.  Much like Remy in Ratatouille, Turbo's pure unbridled passion for what he loves is infectious.  His human companion Tito, the Linguini to Turbo's Remy, is also immediately likable thanks to his enthusiasm for helping Turbo make it to the big race.  Also along for the ride is Turbo's skeptical brother Chet.  Given that Turbo's plot requires the audience to buy into a pretty absurd premise for a film, Chet often serves as the voice of reason, frequently mirroring the thoughts of the audience when pointing out the ridiculousness of what he is witnessing.  Turbo also finds himself surrounded by a ragtag but supportive group of humans and snails alike who manage to be pretty likable despite not getting a whole lot of screen-time.

And, honestly, there really isn't much more to say.  Turbo doesn't break any new ground, but it makes the most of the familiar territory it occupies.  It has good characters, decent humor, polished visuals, and a fitting musical score courtesy of Wreck-It Ralph alum Henry Jackman.  It's unlikely that Turbo will make it to your list of favorite animated films, but it doesn't provide many reasons to dislike it either.  If you're looking for fun way to spend an hour and a half, you could definitely do much worse than Turbo.

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