Animated 'Turbo' needs to hit a higher gear
By Roger Moore
Published: Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
In animation shorthand, “Turbo” is “'Cars' with snails.” It's light on the jokes, but cute, with animation so vivid it looks photo-real.
It's another “impossible dream” tale, this time of a motorhead mollusk who has a need for “terrifying, blinding speed.” Theo (Ryan Gosling) is an auto-racing-obsessed garden snail who longs to escape his colony of tomato-munchers. The occasional terror by a Big Wheel-riding tyke nicknamed “Shell Crusher” and the odd assault by crows is the only excitement in this over-organized, limited world.
He watches races on TV and works hard to improve his time over the measured yard — 17 minutes is a personal best.
Speed? “It's in me,” declares Theo, who prefers the nickname “Turbo.” “It's not,” says his brother Chet (Paul Giamatti), who knows what he's talking about. “Not every dream is meant to come true.”
Turbo is constantly taking risks that are sure to shorten his life, and sometimes even he can see that. Dejected, he slimes his way to the dry bed of the Los Angeles River, where he's caught up in some drag racing and is sucked into the turbocharger of a Nitrous Oxide-boosted Camero.
Darned if he isn't transformed into the World's Fastest Snail, sliming a literal blue streak down L.A. streets and up L.A. walls.
Darned if a Latino taco maker (Michael Pena) doesn't enter Turbo in his rundown strip mall's nightly snail races. Darned if Turbo doesn't chew up the souped-up local snails, led by Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson) but including Smoove Move (Snoop Dogg).
And darned if that doesn't have the taco maker and his fellow failing small business owners (Ken Jeong of “The Hangover” voices a nail-parlor operator, Richard Jenkins a hobbyshop owner and Michelle Rodriguez an auto-body shop operator) thinking “Indianapolis 500.”
The first big laughs arrive when Jackson's character purrs that Turbo has “clearly got the skills to pay the bills ... If snails had bills.” Bill Hader vamps up the French Indy car champ who inspires Turbo but who could not bear to lose to a snail in The Brickyard.
The situations are more amusing than the dialogue and shrieking Jeong one-liners. And as vivid as the race scenes are — zooming over, through and under Indy cars — if we want to watch photo-real auto-racing, we can turn on the TV.
So, while small children may be enchanted by this little gastropod that could, adults will be more sorely tested. For all the horsepower the “Turbo” boasts about, the movie tends toward the sluggish — as in “slow as a slug.”
Roger Moore is a movie critic for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- DVD reviews: ‘The Wolverine,’ ‘Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’ and ‘Drinking Buddies’
- Donald Sutherland brings the bad to ‘Catching Fire’
- ‘Darlings’ keeps alive page of Beat history