Big dreams come in small, slimy packages in Turbo, the story of a garden snail (Ryan Reynolds) who realizes his need for speed after a freak accident involving a hot rod’s nitrous oxide tank turns him hyper-fast. Chastised for his race-car dreams by curmudgeonly brother Chet (Paul Giamatti), Turbo nabs a farfetched shot at Indianapolis 500 glory after he winds up at a local taco stand and befriends Tito (Michael Peña), a kindred dreamer whose fanciful future plans are similarly put down by a pragmatic sibling (Luis Guzmán). David Soren’s story peddles rote messages about believing in yourself and seizing the day, all while adhering to convention at every hairpin turn, be it a cast of comedic-relief sidekicks (voiced by, among others, Samuel L. Jackson and Snoop Dogg) or an arrogant villain in Turbo’s idol-cum-rival Guy Gagné (Bill Hader). Among this illustrious voice cast, only Giamatti stands out, bringing an exasperated protectiveness and anxiety to the otherwise sunshiny-bright proceedings, which exhibit scant interest in drumming up any sense of danger or dread. Content to be merely cheerfully clichéd, it’s an assembly-line kids’ film that, unlike its daring protagonist, risks little, and thus reaps only modest rewards.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 17, 2013