You know, I can't help but feel as though the term "turbo" would be awesome if it hadn't been more-or-less abused by the family entertainment industry, specifically the superpowered sub-industry. Let us at least take comfort in the fact that this isn't as cheesy as "Power Rangers Turbo", so long as you're able to disregard just how cheesy Ryan Reynold's own superhero vehicle was. No, "Green Lantern" wasn't all that cheesy, but Reynolds makes for a more entertaining snail, and by that, I'm not still jokingly talking trash about "Green Lantern" by saying that it's still not as exciting as a snail race, because this film is about as thrilling as it can be to have "Turbo" in the title. You know what, I've been tap-dancing around it, but let's just go ahead and call this a superhero film, because it does appear to be DreamWorks' thing lately to make cool and stylish superhero films with animals you wouldn't expect to be all that cool and stylish, and if there's any making a film about snails fun, then you're going to need a superhero theme and DreamWorks Animation. The fact that they got Paul Giamatti to play Reynold's brother, alone, is nothing short of thoroughly fascinating, unless, of course, you're a woman who is disgusted enough by the fact that they turned Reynolds into a snail. Actually, that may soften the blow a little bit, because as a chunky blue cartoon of a snail, Giamatti has never looked more adorable, and yes, the one fan of the "Green Lantern" film out there, that one is indeed a legitimate trash talk towards Giamatti. Well, at least he has more consistency in picking decent roles than Reynolds, who, in all fairness, is well on his way to getting a respectable track record if he keeps sticking with decent films with Paul Giamatti, like this film, even if momentum here has some hindrances.
Featuring anything from racially stereotypical Mexican humans to kiddy humor behind an over-the-top premise, this film has a silliness to it that one might expect in a family flick like this, yet is still hard to get over, considering the sense of inspiration backing the telling of a silly narrative. The thoughtful approach taken to over-the-top subject matter makes it kind of difficult to feel out the full maturity level of this family film, although it's not like inspired storytelling ever stood a chance of at least washing away its silly narrative's conventions. Like many critics are saying, this film has a refreshing story concept, but in execution, this effort is far from as refreshing, for David Soren's, Robert Siegel's and Darren Lemke's script goes tainted with familiar family-style humor and plotting tropes that are sometimes aggravating in their being so unoriginal. In certain areas, this film asks for more from its audience than what it puts in with all of its silliness and conventions, and yet, the misguided attributes are ultimately not as recurring as I make them seem, so DreamWorks' trademark inspiration should be able to make the final product not simply decent, but good. At the end of the day, what really undercuts this film's reward value is simply simplicity, as this story is not only silly, but minimalist, with meat limitations that should be there to some extent in a family film, but betrays this particular flick's ambition. There's a lot of heart being put into this project, and on the whole, the pay-off is quite commendable, almost to the point of making the final product unexpectedly good, yet as things stand, misguided areas to the interpretation of a minimalist premise hold this promising effort back. The film is simply not what it could have been, but more than that, it's better than I feared, coming close enough to rewarding to entertain thoroughly, and even stand out visually.
Following a trademark DreamWorks style, this film's animations are delightfully energetic, with just the right amount of life to enhance liveliness about as much as action that is thrillingly fast-pace in its staging, as well as eye-popping in its visual style. Of course, it's not like the visuals need flashing lights and thrilling action to be eye-popping, for this effort keeps consistent in being a particularly stylistically delightful animated film of 2013, although that's not to say substance is disregarded. Like I said, this story is a little too silly and thin for total comfort, and the execution is with less originality than you might expect, but bite is still not so watered down that it doesn't engage with an intrigue and potential that David Soren's, Robert Siegel's and Darren Lemke's flawed script does justice more often than not, with sharp, if not hilarious humor and dynamic set pieces, in addition to colorful characterization that is made all the more memorable by performances which are just as colorful. Certain voice talents have their moments to shine, but just about everyone holds enough of his or her own distinguished charm to play just as big, if not a bigger part in bringing life to the characters who play their own big part in making the final product so memorable. Yes, people, the film is a whole lot more memorable than I expected, thanks largely to a major fun factor that is brought to life by lively writing and characters, and truly finalized by lively direction. This really is the passion project debut feature for DreamWorks Animation storyboard artist David Soren, who co-wrote the script and even single-handedly came up with the story concept, but primarily projects his inspiration within a directorial performance that utilizes the aforementioned sharp style and structuring to sustain a consistently brisk pace, controlled from freneticism by a certain thoughtfulness that graces the final product with a near-overwhelming sense of heart. If nothing else, this film is endearing, but that isn't all that this film is, as it meets ambition with enough inspiration in style and storytelling to entertain so thoroughly that the final product comes close to rewarding, even if it could have dashed further.
When the race is done, a silly and minimalist premise is told with so formulaically that the final product eventually finds itself sputtering out just short of rewarding, but the fact that this effort goes that far on the backs of outstanding animation and action, reasonably sharp writing and voice acting, and thoroughly lively and heartfelt direction is enough to make David Soren's "Turbo" nothing short of a mightily fun family flick, in spite of its having more limitations than its racing snail lead.
2.75/5 - Decent