Directed by David Soren. Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Michelle Rodriguez, Luis Guzmán, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Richard Jenkins. DreamWorks.
Decent Films Ratings
|?Kids & Up|
Content advisory: Mild racing action and race-related havoc; a couple of mild double-entendres.
From a National Catholic Register review
By Steven D. Greydanus
If Pixar’s Brave — with its Scots accents, medieval/fantasy setting and rebellious youth vs. authoritarian parent conflict — felt somewhat like a DreamWorks animated film, DreamWorks’ Turbo feels in some ways remarkably like a Pixar film. Specifically, it’s a lot like Ratatouille crossed with Cars, though you may also be reminded of Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and even Finding Nemo.
As in Ratatouille, the hero is a soulful critter — a garden snail rather than a country rat — living on the margins of human habitation in a large community of fellow critters, but longing for something the others can’t comprehend: something he sees on television. His hero, a human celebrity, assures him over the airwaves that no dream is too big, no dreamer too small. (Lurking in the house is a vicious young tyke who looks and acts like he could be the younger brother of Sid from Toy Story — and who gets a similar comeuppance.)
For some reason, Theo (Ryan Reynolds), or “Turbo” as he prefers to be called, idolizes a legendary race-car driver and has a quixotic need for speed that his practical brother Chet (Paul Giamatti) doesn’t understand, though Chet does his best to cover for Theo and keep him out of trouble. Following the Ratatouille template, Theo (and Chet) are separated from their community and wind up in an urban setting where an imaginative human who works in food service recognizes Theo as something special — something that can help the business.
Childlike Tito (Michael Peña) works for his brother Angelo (Luis Guzmán) at Dos Bros Tacos, located in an economically depressed strip mall with other small-business owners so desperate for customers, the mall might as well be called Radiator Springs. Inspired by Turbo, Tito decides to take a preposterous risk: Dos Bros Tacos will sponsor the snail in the Indy 500, where Turbo will take on his racing hero, the flamboyant Guy Gagné (Bill Hader), with the aid of a pit crew of colorfully tricked-out racing snails evoking the circus bugs from A Bug’s Life. (Hat tip on that last connection: R. Kurt Osenlund of Slant.)
What about Finding Nemo? Turbo’s closing gag is a stab at the dark humor of Nemo’s epilogue, with the dentist’s tank fish all “escaping” to the ocean before realizing that they’re still trapped in plastic bags.