Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Ani-MAY-tion Month: Turbo (2013)

After being unexpectedly entertained by The Croods, I now have to say that Turbo is another film ignored by many that I'll be highly recommending to lovers of fun animated movies. Both came from DreamWorks Animation, both feature Ryan Reynolds in a main role, and both were unfairly (in my view) dismissed last year. The Croods actually managed to do decent box office, so I guess I just missed out on any of the positive comments made about it, but Turbo didn't do that well at all, despite being just as good.

Theo (voiced by Reynolds) is a little snail who dreams of big things, hence the name that he gives to himself - Turbo. He wants to be fast, he wants more to his life than just helping to deal with over-ripe tomatoes. His brother, Chet (Paul Giamatti), just wants them to stay safe and do their part alongside the other snails. While looking out over a motorway, Theo ends up blown away from his sightseeing position by a passing vehicle. He passes through a motor, somehow surviving as he is moved through the engine. Once out the other side, Theo heads home and soon finds that the experience has changed him. He's a snail transformed, and might just have enough speed under his shell to achieve his dream - a shot at the Indy 500.

With a fantastic cast lending their voices to the characters, and some gorgeous CG animation, Turbo is always doing enough to keep people entertained, at the very least. There aren't any surprises, there rarely are in animated movies aimed at kids, but a lot of the gags work and the whole thing has a sweetness to it that shows how much it aims to please without tipping all the way over into saccharin territory.

Reynolds has a voice that lends itself well to animated characters, and Giamatti is always recognisable, but Luis Guzman and Michael Pena also do well in their roles, Bill Hader is a lot of fun as Guy Gagne (the champion driver who views Turbo as an amusing trier, as opposed to any real competition), and Samuel L. Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, Ben Schwartz and Mike Bell are all entertaining snails who feel the need for speed. Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez and Richard Jenkins also pop up, as well as Kurtwood Smith and even racing superstar Mario Andretti.

Director David Soren (who co-wrote the screenplay with Darren Lemke and Robert D. Siegel) does a great job of mixing the fun with the heart. I seem to be in the minority of people who really like it, but I hope that others give it a chance. If I can convince just one person to watch it, and if that person ends up liking it almost as much as I did, then my work here is done.



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