dir David Soren
prd Lisa Stewart
scr Darren Lemke, Robert Siegel, David Soren
voices Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Pena, Luis Guzman, Bill Hader, Samuel L Jackson, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, Snoop Dogg, Michael Patrick Bell
release US 17.Jul.13, UK 18.Oct.13
13/US DreamWorks 1h26
Snail vs car: Turbo takes the flag

reynolds giamatti pena
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Turbo There's not much to this riotous animated action-comedy about a super-fast snail, but it's packed with lively characters and exhilarating racing sequences. The script is also clever enough to hold an adult's attention while the kids enjoy the colourful on-screen mayhem.

Theo (Reynolds) is a garden snail who dreams of racing with his human idol, Indy champion Guy Gagne (Hader). He calls himself "Turbo", annoying his brother Chet (Giamatti) and the other snails, but freak accident gives him a jolt of speedy superpower. Eventually he's noticed by another dreamer, Tito (Pena), a man who owns a taco stand with his equally frustrated brother Angelo (Guzman). But with the encouragement of the local business owners (Jenkins, Jeong and Rodriguez), Tito raises the funds to enter Turbo in the Indianapolis 500, where he'll face off against his hero.

The filmmakers create a clever community of snails harvesting tomatoes and cowering from crow attacks before Turbo sets out on his adventure. This provides a nice touch of black comedy (a little boy on a Big Wheel is called "The Shell Crusher") that runs all the way through the film, including playful ethnic stereotypes and a strangely authentic sense of scale. Although visually, everything is so manic that we're distracted by the action.

Even if the snails look plasticky (with a suspicious lack of slime for a movie aimed at young boys), their lively personalities grab our sympathies. Voice work is energetic and witty, while the animators out-do themselves with whizzy action scenes both in the sky and on the race track, putting us right into Turbo's perspective. And the script even dares to poke fun at its own preposterous plot, such as in a what-if "snail vs car" news report.

In the end, it boils down to the usual message about believing in yourself and those you love, with a nice two-strand sibling touch ("Everyone believes in me," Turbo says to Chet. "Why can't you?" And Tito could say the same to Angelo). Although the point about how the world needs dreamers is undercut by the fact that Turbo has magical powers. And the attempt to wrestle emotional suspense into the plot is rather corny. But with a smile on your face, you don't mind too much.

cert u themes, some violence 2.Jul.13

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall