The film is named for the nom de plume of a snail, Theo, who's fanatical about racing. He dreams of entering the Indianapolis 500-Mile race, undeterred by the fact that he can't drive, and that nature keeps him moving at around a millimetre per second. While his responsible older brother, Chet, insists that he grows up and gets to work, Theo keeps on keeping on, and sure enough, he winds up gaining super-speed from an accident with nitrous oxide that changes his DNA.
The film plays a little like someone cobbled together the interesting parts of Cars and Ratatouille. The racing stuff comes from the former, and from the latter, we have an animal with an atypical talent, who dreams of being famous for that talent despite his family's protests, and winds up teaming up with a sorta-dopey human who can show him the way to the big time. In the end, "a snail who wants to go fast" just isn't as interesting, or as plausible, as "a rat who wants to cook."
|From R-L: Turbo (Ryan Reynolds) and Paul Giamatti (himself).|
The film does have a couple of saving graces, including the characters voiced by Paul Giamatti and Samuel L Jackson. Just as The Croods managed to distill what makes Nicolas Cage such a compelling live-action performer in the form of an animated caveman, both of these characters are terrific. Chet somehow encapsulates all of Giamatti's mannerisms in his chubby face and exasperated eyes, and the vocals are rock-solid too. While it's comparatively easier to point Jackson in one direction, wind him up and let him go, his dialogue as another racer snail, Whiplash, provides some of the best laughs in the movie.
It's also pretty nice to look at. Though it's hardly Rush, the final race sequence would look intense even without a diminutive hero trying to slide between comparatively enormous vehicles. As it turns out, Christopher Nolan's cinematographer, Wally Pfister, is credited as a visual consultant, continuing in Dreamworks' recent extension of their star-casting process to behind-the-scenes creative talents like Charlie Kaufman, Guillermo del Toro and Noah Baumbach. As apparent as Pfister's input may be, it's the script probably could've used one of those creative stars, especially judging by how this much more out-there premise pales in comparison to the surreal and simplistic glee of Baumbach's Madagascar 3.
Turbo is now showing, in 2D and 3D, at cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Turbo, why not share your comments below? If you haven't seen it, then seriously, go and see Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 instead.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.