Since 1998’s Antz, Dreamworks Animation has been trying to compete with the family animated juggernaut that is Pixar. Dreamwork’s films have made a ton of money, but have always lacked the timeless feel of a Walt Disney or Pixar film. I would describe their business model as more of a quantity versus quality approach. Dreamworks Animation would release up to three films per year, hire big name stars to voice their characters and then rely on cheap pop culture jokes (see the Shrek franchise) for laughs. There is no better example of the Dreamworks Animation flawed style for critical success than its new film Turbo.
Turbo is the story of a snail named Theo (Ryan Reynolds) who just wants to be fast, much to the dismay of the rest of his snail colony. After a freak accident involving NOS, Theo gets super speed and crazy car attributes and becomes Turbo. Turbo catches the eye of a taco stand owner who decides to enter Turbo in the Indy 500. Now Turbo must avoid the squashing tires of the other racers while catching grief from his disapproving brother Chet voiced by Paul Giamatti.
If this seems like a Cars knock off you would be right. The racing is there, the strip mall substituting for Radiator Springs as well as a cast of other goofy racing snails played by Samuel L. Jackson and Snoop Lion. Considering Cars is one of the least critically loved Pixar films, I’m surprised the creators chose that for Turbo‘s inspiration. I guess once again Dreamworks Animation was taking the quantity approach thinking of all those merchandise dollars to me made from colorful toy snails.
I know I can be rough on family films that don’t have the word Pixar in the title, so let me allow my wife’s opinion to enter this review. She loves animated films and believes I’m too hard on some of the family movies that flood our theaters. But when we walked out of Turbo, she looked right at me and said “That was bad.” I couldn’t agree with her more. Your kids under six may enjoy Turbo, but everyone else will probably be as bored as if you were watching two non super-powered snails race behind a taco stand. Once again we have a film made just to give you parents more little plastic toys from your children’s fast food meal to step on in the middle of the night.
Overall, I give Turbo 1.5 out of 4 potatoes.
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