DreamWorks animation amazes me for it’s constant inconsistency. And I not referring to my impression on the movies themselves, just the fact that they don’t seem to really care what kind of movies they release. At least with a company like Disney, they’re dedicated (at least in the beginning) to either showcase fairy tales or art house features to show off the talent of the animators. Naturally other companies have gone against Disney in an attempt to show that they have talented people making movies as well. Though there are still plenty of companies making animated features, DreamWorks Animation seems to be the main competitor of Disney.
Now how do you classify the types of movies that DreamWorks has pulled off? When you look at the Shrek franchise, Madagascar franchise and Shark Tale, you can see that these are in the category of satire. But wait. Look at something like Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and Megamind. I would put these in the large and grand emotional stories that are almost as good as Pixar. Or what about something like Wallace and Gromit? I’m not really sure. What I can say that DreamWorks animated movies seem to share the common style of humor which is really cynical. They’re basically the anti Disney company, yet I can proudly claim as a worthwhile studio that has produced some really good movies. It looks like they’ve gone beck to a satire formula with Turbo.
This new tale centers on a garden snail named Turbo (played by Ryan Reynolds). He spends his days watching Indy car racing on a TV in someone’s garage. He’s obsessed with speed and has a dream of winning the Indy 500. His brother Chet (played by Paul Giamatti) and other snails laugh, but Turbo keeps his sights set on his goal.
It should happen in almost a Disney like fashion where Turbo wishes on a star that he could go fast. After a freak accident involving nitrous oxide, his wish is granted and Turbo can now achieve speed in the hundreds of miles. Eventually, Turbo and Chet end up in a strip mall where taco truck driver Tito (played by Michael Pena) discovers the speedy insect and persuades the rest of the shop owners, including garage mechanic Paz (played by Michelle Rodriguez) and a nail saloon owner Kim-Ly (played by Ken Jeong) to join on the quest for the Indy 500. Using the movie cliché of “nothing in the rule book about a snail that can’t race”, Turbo finally gets his chance to possibly win.
I will immediately say that when I saw the trailer for Turbo, I thought that DreamWorks had taken a major step backwards. I just didn’t understand the novelty of putting together snails and Indy car racing. What? It’s certainly a inventive concept that could have work. Is it nothing but a slow slug of a movie? Well, not really. I actually found myself more surprised with how much creativity went into something as bizarre as this.
For one thing, the detail to the whole Indy Car world is just great. The cars are to scale, the sounds are the same, the garages look like something out of a real grand prix, and even the announcer of the race is an authentic race announcer. It’s all really cool. But then you had to include snails. Not that putting snails into the world of racing can’t work. It’s an underdog story. But these movies can only work when you really support that character trying to become the winner. And the character of Turbo is not that good.
Who thought that Ryan Reynolds would be a good choice? I already don’t like this actor and the idea of having to watch an animated movie with him really bugged me. His voice is not a good choice for cartoons. It’s too deep and breathy for something as colorful as an orange snail. Plus when your main character is nothing but a dreaming living in lala land, it looks crazy. Why couldn’t Turbo have a child’s voice? Or how about no voice at all? That would have been very cute. But no, DreamWorks decided that they needed a known start to make money.
Plus I will come out and say that for a movie that should have been simple, this movie has a lot going on. Normally that’s something I would applaud, but for a movie that’s geared for kids, this will make things more difficult in keeping attention. How can I stay focused when the movie is not? Speaking of which, Turbo seems to be for kids, and I mean little kids, like probably under six. I can tell that DreamWorks wants this movie to be the next big thing so that they can make a lot of catchphrases and sell toys.
I’ll give this two and a half bottle of nitro out of five. While I can’t say that Turbo was a bad movie, I can’t recommend this either. I’m sure plenty of people will like this, just not me. So if you’re six and under, Turbo is your champion. But for me, I’ll wait for DreamWorks to make a real winner of a movie.