Trying to ride the waves of the summer movies for kids, “Turbo” was released on Jul. 17. “Despicable Me 2” was on top last week, and “Turbo” has too much competition and not enough kick to be memorable this weekend.
Theo (Ryan Reynolds) is a garden snail that longs for speed. His brother Chet (Paul Giamatti) encourages Theo to give up his unrealistic dream, but a bizarre accident gives Theo superpowers (mostly he seems possessed by car features). Armed with his new super speed, Theo takes the name Turbo and upgrades his dream to winning the Indy 500. Coincidentally, a taco truck worker named Tito (Michael Pena) finds Chet and Theo and enters them into a snail race against Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson), Burn (Maya Rudolph), White Shadow (Mike Bell), Skidmark (Ben Schwartz), and Smoove Move (Snoop Dogg) without knowing Turbo’s powers. His brother Angelo (Luis Guzman) also discourages Tito’s unlikely dreams, so Tito steals money and receives support from local shop owners Kim Ly (Ken Jeong), Paz (Michelle Rodriguez), and Bobby (Richard Jenkins) to enter Turbo in the Indy 500 against Turbo’s hero Guy Gagne (Bill Hader).
There is no shortage of famous supporting cast members and stars, but none of the roles is all that personable. Though the characters eventually learn to be supportive of each other, none of them charms the audience. The shop owners and fellow snails represent racial stereotypes, not exactly a good lesson to be teaching kids. The brothers’ lack of encouragement is disappointing, the villainous rival is unnecessarily mean, and Turbo is a bit cocky. Tito is sweet, but he’s a bit too ditzy.
The ridiculousness of the premise and events caters to the accepting minds of children. Like Peter Parker’s peck from a spider that leads to absorbing spider abilities, Theo becomes like a car. Besides speed, Theo gets an uncontrollable radio, car alarm, etc. solely for the comic effect, but it’s too silly for adults. And don’t forget the idea of a snail not getting smashed by the cars on the racetrack.
Despite vibrant animation, bold primary colors, and action, my six-year-old was occasionally bored. “Turbo” kept her attention for the most part, but I can’t imagine she’ll ever want to watch it again. If you just want to make your kid laugh, see “Despicable Me 2” instead.
Rating for “Turbo:” C-
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“Turbo” is playing across Columbus in 3-D, including at AMC Lennox, Easton, Grove City, and Dublin. For showtimes, click here.