2013 has by no means been a banner year for animated films. Outside the recently released Frozen, every animated film this year has ranged from okay (Monsters University and Epic) to terrible (The Croods). That doesn’t even account for new editions to animated film series that have already gone off the rails (Despicable Me 2 and Planes). With intentions of starting off its own franchise, Turbo, definitely isn’t a memorable film, but it’s slightly above the other stuff we have been getting from this genre so far this year. With some fun characters, Turbo is able to overcome a ridiculous plot (even by animated film standards).
Turbo follows Theo (voice by Ryan Reynolds), a garden snail who dreams of one day becoming a racer in the Indy 500. Unfortunately for him, he is resigned to a life of working in the tomato factory with his brother (voiced by Paul Giamatti). One day Theo finds himself in an accident. While recovering he realizes he now has super speed. With his new found power, Theo will go on a journey that he could only dream of beforehand. The film is directed by David Soren (making his feature film directorial debut) and is written by Soren, Darren Lemke (Shrek Forever After) and Robert D. Siegel (The Wrestler).
This film has a ridiculous storyline, and you could fit a full sized truck through the story’s plot holes. Yet this film still works. A lot of that is due to the character writing on this film. Theo is a captivating protagonist and Chet (Theo’s brother) works quite well as a sidekick (although a lot of that also has to do with Paul Giamatti’s strong voice work). The villain is done well (both through the writing and Bill Hader’s hilarious voice work), and the other human characters can be quite interesting when the film wants them to be.
The film could have reached the level of Pixar or upper level Dreamworks films if it had given some more depth to its human characters, though. Tito (the main human character in the film) is quite interesting, and it seems the film could have gained something if more time was spent on his relationship with his father. One scene where Tito is about to make a major decision showcases a struggle between the two characters that could have carried the entire film. Unfortunately, it is only brought up again here and there.
Turbo is a solid if unspectacular animated film.