Theo (Ryan Reynolds – R.I.P.D) is a snail that wants to go fast. Bored with his life and constantly conforming to everyone else’s mundane existence, he ventures out into the city and has a freak accident. Now super-charged with Nitrous Oxide after falling into a car engine, Theo finds that he can move super fast so now goes by the name Turbo. Much to his brother Chet’s (Paul Giamatti – Fred Claus) disapproval, the two embark on a journey that could take them all the way to the infamous Indianapolis 500 car race.
Turbo is a film that has originality stamped all over it. From the first, breathtaking ariel shot (high above Indianapolis that sweeps to ground level and into a sports arena, then takes you on the track midway through a car race), you know that you are witnessing something special. Turbo is an original idea filled with genuine affection and heart that’s all thanks to writer/director David Soren and writers Darren Lemke and Robert D. Siegel’s engaging vision.
The main settings for this film are a residential house and its back garden, an LA street race in a tunnel, a desolate shopping strip and the Indy 500. That somehow all works in unison to create a truly original adventure that’s hard not to fall in love with. The film looks sumptuous in every frame, from the beautiful backdrops of scenery to the lush vibrancy of the characters and even the mouthwatering ingredients of Tito and Angelo’s tacos. The 3D is also an important factor in giving the audience a real sense of speed. There have been a lot of action movies out this year but Turbo is the only one that genuinely makes you feel like you are hurtling at 200mph (and I’m including Fast & Furious 6 in this). The speed Turbo achieves puts the audience right in his place and is one of the best examples of 3D animation seen onscreen for awhile.
Animations these days tend to attract an amazing cast. Turbo is no different but its one of those rare movies that actually utilises all of its talent for a clear narrative purpose, not just to sell cinema tickets off the back of their stars notoriety. Using actors and actresses hand-picked for the characters during the writing process, Turbo feels like a true ensemble piece.
Leading the way is Ryan Reynolds as the idealistic Theo who becomes Turbo. His determination and drive is great to watch, especially when it collides with his brother’s hopes and fears for him. Paul Giamatti makes the movie with an engaging turn as Chet and the two actors bounce off one another to give a true sense of brotherly love.
Turbo and Chet’s complicated relationship is mirrored by Tito and his brother Angelo. The ever hopeful Tito is voiced with compassion by Michael Pena whilst the unmistakable sound of Luis Guzman provides the voice of Angelo. The scene in which both Turbo and Tito are trying to convince their respective, skeptical brothers about racing in the Indy 500 is a wonderfully constructed moment.
Samuel L. Jackson is awesome as Whiplash and brings a full quota of bad-ass to the table. Whether he’s gearing up his team or putting a nemesis in his place – “Don’t test me Crow!” – Jackson is outstanding in the movie. He is given great support by the likes of Snoop Dogg, Miya Rudolph and Ben Schwartz too.
The human characters are all excellently portrayed as well with the legendary Richard Jenkins doing a stellar job as a hobby store owner who constructs racing shells for the snails. Bill Hader does a convincing job as Turbo’s racing hero Guy Gagné (even if he does look just like Vincent Cassell!). Their rivalry is also handled well with Guy not being a typically one dimensional villain. He’s a man looking to win at all costs, even if that means crushing the dreams of Turbo despite speaking up for a snails and their right to compete in the first place. Elsewhere The Hangover’s Ken Jeoung does a funny job as a female Asian nail therapist and Michelle Rodriguez sasses it up as only she can as a mechanic.
With a nice central message that anyone can achieve their dreams and some fitting life lessons in acceptance, hope and friendship in the face of insurmountable odds, Turbo is a joy from start to finish. Fingers crossed that we get to take another spin with Turbo and his pals too, characters like these are too good not to revisit again. For an exciting and above all, original, family adventure, look no further than this delightful gem of a film.