Turbo – 2013
Director David Soren
Starring (Voice) Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, Michelle Rodriguez, Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Hader, Snoop Dogg, Luis Guzmán, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michael Bell
Screenplay David Soren, Robert Siegel, Darren Lemke
Taking elements from one of the least artistically successful Pixar films (Cars) and one of the Pixar films most people forgot (Ratatouille) we have a story about a small normally disgusting thing (snail) aspiring to succeed in a field that would not normally be successful at (car racing). If you never thought you wanted to see a movie about this, David Soren and co-writers Siegel and Lemke have not done anything here to change your mind.
Ryan Reynolds is Theo, or Turbo as he comes to be known. His brother is Chet, played by Paul Giamatti. If it’s hard to tell them by sound at first, it’s because they are not the same personalities they normally inhabit onscreen. Instead, they are muted, child-safe versions with big hearts, big fears and big dreams. Or something like that.
Turbo spends his time watching Guy Gagné (Hader) who’s putting a bad accent on a worse character. Guy is the number one Indy racer in this story. Watching him brings the mind to Sacha Baron Cohen’s Jean Girard. Immediately one realizes that no matter how bad they make this guy, he will never be as funny as Cohen. Will Turbo beat Gagné in the big race? The fact that they did not name the film Gagné should be a clue.
Turbo is surrounded by some colorful characters, voiced by Jackson, Jeong, Bell, Snoop and Rudolph. There are also some not so memorable characters who I won’t bother naming. If you really want to know, just stare at the page for a while and it will be more exciting than watching the film.
How Turbo becomes the speedball snail is not really that interesting. It was hard enough watching him blaze over detailed surfaces and trying to figure out how in the world his own surface was not torn to pieces. There are some nice moments with some very realistic looking crows. Quite simply, Sam Jackson is in control, no matter what his size.
The music is pretty good. I enjoyed the clever use of The Jackson 5’s Back to Indiana, even if none of the characters had been to Indiana before. There is a timely scene about those clever songs created out of Youtube clips that would be even better if it didn’t give the impression that everyone uses a Verizon phone. Hopefully I get a free phone for that clever ad placement.
Kids will like this film, but many kids like to pick their noses when they are young. There is nothing that will distinguish this film from any of the other 100’s of average films they will see in their lives.
(** out of *****)