Revving into theaters a mere four months after DreamWorks Animation’s last film (the prehistoric box-office smash The Croods), Turbo is a mildly enjoyable warm-weather diversion that’s neither as funny as it should be nor as emotionally rousing as it could be.
Voiced with a peppy blandness by Ryan Reynolds, Turbo is an oozy, slow-poke garden snail with sleepy, hooded eyes who dreams of being a speed demon. He spends his days noshing on backyard tomatoes and his nights watching NASCAR on TV. The ironically-named Turbo fantasizes about becoming a racing legend like his human hero, Guy Gagné (Bill Hader), who, through a Bouillabaisse-thick French accent tells his fans, ”No dream is big and no dreamer too small.” Against the dream-dashing advice of his jowly snail brother (Paul Giamatti), Turbo takes Gagné’s words to heart?especially after a freak accident transforms him into a fuel-injected mollusk with blazing speed. Turbo no longer slithers along at a millimeter-a-minute clip, he burns rubber, leaving a vapor trail of whizzing neon light in his wake.
Soon, a chubby taco-truck driver named Tito (Michael Peña) discovers Turbo’s supernatural gift and adds him to his freak-show menagerie of delusional, gung-ho snails (a barking Samuel L. Jackson, a laid-back Snoop Dogg, and a sassy Maya Rudolph). He then enters Turbo into the Indy 500, where the wonder slug faces steep odds and squares off with Gagné. The climactic race scenes have a zippy, whiplash velocity thanks to the film’s vertiginous 3-D. And while there’s no denying that the film is a harmless, wholesome, and heart-warming ride crafted with polish and skill, it’s also so predictable that you’ll see every twist in the story driving down Fifth Avenue. B