Monday, July 22, 2013

Turbo (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about Dreamwork's new snail racing movie "Turbo" in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.



 And all this time I felt bad when I would accidentally hit animals with my car, turns out, I was probably giving them superpowers.
Turbo is the latest CG family movie from Dreamworks and brings us the story of a misfit snail whose dreams of becoming an Indy Car racer are suddenly in sight after a freak accident leaves him as some sort of snail/sportscar hybrid. Ryan Reynolds voices Turbo and Paul Giamatti his reluctant and protective brother Chet. The storyline is paralleled by a couple brothers of the human variety, who are desperately trying to live their dream of having the best taco stand/snail race course in the country.
I feel like I should say first, that I think kids will love this film, at least I know the ones that live with me did. My boys were laughing and cheering throughout and came away quoting lines and singing “The snail is fast” autotune remix that is sure to haunt my spotify playlist for months to come. Point being, they loved it, and at points I thought I might too. There’s actually quite a bit to like here. The movie has a good sense of what it is and seems to live in its world wholeheartedly. I can imagine some will get hung up on the realism factor of actually allowing a snail to race in the Indy 500, but seriously, once animals in a movie speak actual human words, just go with it ok? If you can, I think you’ll find a great sense of humor, some great voice casting, and some incredible action and visuals. And that’s the best thing about Turbo, the speed. The racing scenes in particular are genuinely exciting and fell really immersive in 3D on the big screen.
The problem is that “Turbo” ends up falling into the same problem racing in general does for me, it’s too predictable. All that speed and adrenaline is muted by the fact that the players are literally just driving around in circles. (Cue hatemail from Nascar fans in 3... 2... 1...) We’ve just seen this so many times before. and that recycled underdog formula is the worst thing about Turbo. This is at least our 200th lap around this storyline and there isn’t enough here to distinguish it from the others. Even the super powered animal part seems overdone, from Dumbo to Air Bud. Not only this but the message even left me scratching my head. Sure it was heartfelt and I think it was supposed to be about pursuing your dreams, but encouraging us to pursue the thing we aren’t good at in hopes that we will get struck with a superpower that makes us good at it rings as false to me. I’m reminded of those poor souls every year during American Idol tryouts that can’t carry a tune and yet think that they are destined for the life of a pop superstar. Unfortunately, In the real world that kind of delusion buries you in disappointment rather than fulfillment.
And yet, If you are thinking about taking the kids to see “Turbo” it shouldn’t be a bad night out. They’ll love it, and there’s enough humor and visual splendor there to keep you occupied as well. Even if the message may not quite resonate and the formula is a little stale, you still should have fun. One left turn after another. I say Turbo finishes the race with a B-.
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