Kids will love ‘Turbo’; parents, not so much

  • By Roger Moore McClatchy-Tribune News Service
  • Wednesday, July 17, 2013 1:30pm
  • LifeGo-See-DoMovies

In animation shorthand, “Turbo” is “‘Cars’ with snails.” It’s light on the jokes, but cute, with animation so vivid it looks photo-real.

It’s another “impossible dream” tale, this time of a motorhead mollusk who has a need for “terrifying, blinding speed.” Theo (Ryan Reynolds) is an auto-racing obsessed garden snail who longs to escape his colony of tomato-munchers. The occasional terror by a Big Wheel-riding tyke nicknamed “Shell Crusher” and the odd assault by crows is the only excitement in this over-organized, limited world.

He watches races on TV and works hard to improve his time over the measured yard — 17 minutes is a personal best.

Speed? “It’s IN me,” declares Theo, who prefers the nickname “Turbo.”

“It’s NOT,” says his brother Chet (Paul Giamatti), who knows what he’s talking about. “Not every dream is meant to come true.”

Turbo is constantly taking risks that are sure to shorten his life, and sometimes even he can see that. Dejected, he slimes his way to the dry bed of the Los Angeles River, where he’s caught up in some drag racing and is sucked into the turbocharger of a nitrous oxide-boosted Camaro.

Darned if he isn’t transformed into the World’s Fastest Snail, sliming a literal blue streak down L.A. streets and up L.A. walls.

Darned if a Latino taco maker (Michael Pena) doesn’t enter Turbo in his rundown strip mall’s nightly snail races. Darned if Turbo doesn’t chew up the souped-up local snails, led by Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson) but including Smoove Move (Snoop Dogg).

And darned if that doesn’t have the taco maker and his fellow failing small business owners (Ken Jeong of “The Hangover” voices a nail parlor operator, Richard Jenkins a hobbyshop owner and Michelle Rodriguez an auto body shop operator) thinking “Indianapolis 500.”

The first big laughs arrive when Jackson’s character purrs that Turbo has “clearly got the skills to pay the bills … If snails had bills.” Bill Hader vamps up the French Indy car champ who inspires Turbo but who could not bear to lose to a snail in The Brickyard.

The situations are more amusing than the dialogue and shrieking Jeong one-liners. And as vivid as the race scenes are — zooming over, through and under Indy cars — if we want to watch photo-real auto-racing we can turn on the TV.

So while small children may be enchanted by this little gastropod that could, adults will be more sorely tested. For all the horsepower the “Turbo” boasts about, the movie tends toward the sluggish — as in “slow as a slug.”

“Turbo” (2½ stars)

An “impossible dream” tale about a garden snail obsessed with car racing. This vividly animated movie is best for small fry; it will try the patience of adults. With the voices of Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Giamatti, Luis Guzman, Michael Pena, Michelle Rodriguez,Ken Jeong and Bill Hader.

Rated: PG for content.

Showing: Alderwood Mall, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marsyville, Olympic, Stanwood, Meridian, Oak Tree, Woodinville, Blue Fox, Cascade, Oak Harbor.

More in Life

Everett’s Michael ‘Scooby’ Silva is the leader of the (dog) pack

Since 2012, he’s built a thriving business walking dogs while their owners are at work.

Still looking for that one special recipe for the holidays?

Columnist Jan Roberts-Dominguez shares her traditional recipes for cheese soup and chocolate sauce.

How to saute mushrooms to crispy, browned perfection

Various levels of heat affect our scrumptious fungus: There’s “sweating” and then there’s “sauteing.”

Bob Jepperson’s Wild Love Story

A perfect circle of sounds, pictures and storytelling from the Anacortes author.

Brutally true ‘Montauk’ parallels author’s conflicted real life

The short autofictional novel centers on a weekend tryst the narrator has with a much younger woman.

‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globe nominations

“The Post” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” also collected a number of nominations.

This author is throwing a virtual party for book lovers

Jennifer Bardsley is hosting a Facebook get-together for young-adult book authors and readers.

Getting a glimpse of what’s coming as we age

Everett Public Library reading to help you understand the changes ahead in your elder years.

Bustling Dublin offers big-city sights and Irish charm

The dynamic city has a great story to tell, and people who excel at telling it.

Most Read