'Turbo' Review: Underdog Snail Story Packs 3D Punch

Whoever thought that snails would be the focus of an enjoyable 3D animated film one day?

It seems like animation has brought almost everything to life … cars, bugs, monsters, minions, robots, planes and even a toaster (remember that one?)

DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo may be the best underdog story we’ll see all year. Why? We’ve got a cute little snail that believes the impossible, his rocking’ group of friends to back him up and 3D visuals so bright, even James Cameron would be jealous.

Turbo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) is your typical garden snail. He lives with his extremely cautious brother Chet (Paul Giamatti), and the two spend their days working in a garden, eating tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Turbo adores French-Canadian driver Guy Gagne (Bill Hader) and has bigger dreams about competing in the Indy 500.

While (slowly) strolling along the streets of Los Angeles, Turbo suddenly gets sucked into an engine during a drag race, absorbing nitrous oxide. Turbo’s impossible dream becomes a reality now that he can clock 200 mph with his new-found powers.

Tito (Michael Pena) first recognizes Turbo’s super speed after entering him in a snail race with some friends. Tito convinces some local business owners (voiced by Michelle Rodriguez, Ken Jeong and Richard Jenkins) to help sponsor Turbo ‘s trip to Indianapolis.

Turbo’s racing snail buds (including Samuel L. Jackson, Snoop Dogg and Maya Rudolph) tag along for the road trip and serve as Turbo’s pit crew. And I must say, hearing Snoop Dogg in an animated film is quite hilarious.

Turbo does fall into underdog story clichés, but when you have an A-list cast like this and visual effects that are top-notch, the story board doesn’t really matter that much. Reynolds’s Turbo is completely engaging and Pena’s Tito has enough heart to feed the entire film. Giamatti is hilarious as the worrisome brother and Snoop Dogg is essentially playing himself as the chill snail, literally called Smoove Moove.

Christopher Nolan’s regular cinematographer Wally Pfister (Inception and The Dark Knight Rises) served as an artistic consultant for Turbo and the results are exceptional. The fluidity of the racing scenes and action sequences is amazing and looks especially great in 3D.

The 3D doesn’t particularly jump out at you, but it gives a wonderful insight on what it feels like to be a snail, especially when one is racing against a dozen cars. The film is bright and the dialogue is funny enough for both kids and adults.

Turbo wins because of the incredible voice performances and pleasingly beautiful visuals.


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