Susan Granger's review of 'Turbo'
Published 4:00 pm, Friday, July 19, 2013
It's a "Fast and Furious" animated comedy, as a garden snail yearns to race in the Indy 500.
While daredevil Turbo (Ryan Reynolds) and his cautious, older brother Chet (Paul Giamatti) toil at the Tomato Plant, Turbo's passion is speed. Firmly believing the credo of French-Canadian superstar racer Guy Gagne (SNL's Bill Hader), "No dream is too big -- no dreamer too small," Turbo ventures into the outside world, where he's swept off a freeway overpass onto the hood of a sports car. As he's sucked into the air intake valve, nitrous oxide explodes every atom of his body, changing his molecular structure. Suddenly, he's fast, really fast, blazing through the streets of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley like a neon bullet.
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Then, Turbo and Chet are captured by Tito Lopez (Michael Pena), who -- with his brother Angelo (Luis Guzman) -- runs the "Dos Bros" taco truck at the Starlight Plaza, a Van Nuys strip mall. Tito's hobby is snail-racing, so Turbo joins the Racing Snails -- Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson), Smoove Move (Snoop Dogg), Burn (Maya Rudolf), Skidmark (Ben Schwartz) and White Shadow (Mike Bell) -- whose tricked-out shells look like mini-street racing cars. With the es-car-goes as his pit crew and the financial support of Starlight shop owners (Michelle Rodriguez, Ken Jeong, Richard Jenkins), Turbo begins his tenacious trek to the Indy 500, where he learns that persistence is what pays off in the end.
This determined underdog story intertwines the parallel lives of two sets of brothers, and the inventive use of 3D actually enhances the snails' vulnerability. Since the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.5-mile track draws more than 250,000 spectators, that posed the greatest challenge: lots of seats filled with digital people. According to director/co-screenwriter David Soren, animators created a card system allowing them to blend fully modeled, three-dimensional, cheering crowds with flat cards of more crowds. In one shot, there are 478,000 characters.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Turbo" is a sweet, endearing 8, an astonishing, fun-filled adventure for adrenaline junkies of all ages.