Animadversion: Turbo by Farheen Jawaid

This review was published on the 4th of August 2013 in Images on Sunday (Dawn Newspaper). The post is an unedited copy.


Zooming Snails at the Indy 500

By Farheen Jawaid

DreamWorks Animation’s “Turbo” has an absurd, and yet highly optimistic, premise about a small snail and his big dream of racing in the Indy 500. Talk about the unachievable, right?!

Theo aka Turbo (Ryan Reynolds) is that snail who loves racing. He loves it so much that he watches old car races on his TV set over and over again and idealizes Guy Gagné (Bill Hader), a French racing legend, even as the voice of reason – his older brother Chet (Paul Giamatti) – tries to wake him-up from his day dreams and focus on survival. Survival for snails is a trip to the vegetable garden and gathering tomatoes (one of the snails getting nipped by crows at daily intervals is also part of the routine). However Turbo craves speed and doesn’t want to get stuck in the routine life of a snail, much to the chagrin of Chet.


Following an argument with Chet, Turbo lands up on the bonnet of a racing car, in the middle of a street race. As Turbo starts to enjoy the race, he gets sucked into the engine and takes nitro powered fuel into his system – and surprisingly doesn’t die. Instead, he gets headlights like eyes and super speed of professional racing cars.

After that unbelievable development, Chet and Turbo are adopted by Tito (Michael Peña), who mirrors the two brother relationships with his older sibling Angelo (Luis Guzmán), the owner of a Taco shop in a lifeless area.

Tito, as it turns out, is also a snail racing enthusiast with other shop owners of the area, and Turbo makes friend with likeminded “racing” snails Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson), Smoove Move (Snoop Dogg), White Shadow (Michael Bell), Burn (Maya Rudolph) and Skidmark (Ben Schwartz). Encouraged by Tito, and his racing snail friends, Turbo heads to Indy 500 for fame, glory – and publicity for Tito’s Taco business.

Coming down to it, “Turbo’s” biggest flaw is its mediocrity. It is just one of many of far better made underdog achieving his dreams films – like “Ratatouille”, “Kung Fu Panda” and “Happy Feet”. But what “Turbo” does have is likability, which is saying much when snails are neither cute nor cuddly. But once the snail compadre-ship kicks-in, “Turbo” gets saved from being a siesta session.

Released by 20th Century Fox, “Turbo” is directed by David Soren and written by Soren, Robert Siegel and Darren Lemke. Rated PG, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.

The published version is here, and it looks like this in the paper:

August 04 2013 - Master Full

August 04 2013 - Turbo


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