Lively cast fuels 'Turbo'
MANILA, Philippines - The first few scenes of "Turbo" are extremely similar to the beginning of "Ratatouille." You’ve got an animal dreaming of doing something it isn’t meant to (a snail wanting to race cars and a rat wanting to cook), the animal watching a video where the Frenchman that excels in the field dispenses words of wisdom.
All the while the animal’s brother, standing aside, discourages the lead animal from that dream. Soon enough, in both films, catastrophic events occur, forcing the lead away from their community into an environment where they can try to chase their dreams.
For these similarities, I was ready to dismiss "Turbo" as a rip-off. Yet another case of DreamWorks aping Pixar. But once the film goes through its exposition, establishing the conflict, it really picks up.
It takes us to a worn down commercial center and introduces a colorful, interesting cast of human characters. These humans who hover about and hang their hopes on a snail make the flick as interesting as the racing scenes around which the film is built.
The titular character, a snail who wants to be fast, who wants to race, isn’t much in the way of originality. He’s the typical protagonist of this type of flick, the dreamer who believes against all odds that he can make it, thereby teaching kids to pursue their dreams.
He’s paired with a brother who doesn’t do much beyond nag and discourage him from doing anything. This is the usual fare.
What makes it interesting in Turbo is that the snail brothers are mirrored by two human brothers who have similar conflicts. The dreamer and the practical thinker clash in fun ways in this film because of this kind of doubled effect, especially in one scene where their arguments start to overlap.
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Also par for the course is bringing in a wacky crew of animals as backup to help our plucky protagonist on his way. The group here is fun and memorable, led by Samuel L. Jackson and backed up by a chilled out Snoop Lion. They have a little of the group conflict, but it’s done through a fun racing scene. The rest of it is crazy fun, with the group of snails doing outrageous tricks, and crowd-pleaser White Shadow popping in for great laughs.
The character Turbo gets infused with nitro and becomes fast, and this makes him special and capable of running at extraordinary speeds. On this magic the film builds the hopes of all the characters.
Seeing that the snail is special, one of the brothers of Dos Bros Tacos plans to take Turbo to the Indy 500. The media exposure will bring people to their little commercial center, revitalizing a place that will otherwise surely die. So the struggle becomes, first, getting the people around them to believe in Turbo, and then getting him into the race, and then finally winning the race. All of it on the back of the little snail, supported by the taco-selling dreamer brother who believes in his magical pet.
It’s a by-the-numbers kid flick. You have the little lesson that drives it all. You’ve got cute characters and catch phrases. There are some eye-popping visuals, as the film goes all out in showing great imagination in the races.
While it all seems like your typical kid animated movie, I found myself liking Turbo. It has a great sense of humor and it employs a good ensemble cast that brings a lot of heart to the piece.
I feel that the voice acting and character work did a lot more for the movie than the expected villain twist and the racing scenes that sometimes were overwhelming. You might come for the racing, but what you’ll remember are the laughs and the kinds of relationships that we are shown. - Rappler.com
Carljoe Javier is at the faculty of English and Comparative Literature at UP. He is also an author, and among his books are The Kobayashi Maru of Love, the new edition of which is available from Visprint Inc. His upcoming Writing 30 will be available as an ebook at amazon, ibookstore, b&n and flipreads.com