There’s little doubt DreamWorks Animation’s latest Turbo , about a motorhead mollusc named Theo competing at Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, was put together using nuts and bolts picked up at a chop shop. Its dubious plot races with scenes borrowed from Antz and A Bug’s Life at pole position to Ratatouille, Cars and Shark Tale, clocking in record speed at the finish line (96 minutes).
Theo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) is part of an escargatoire working at The Plant—a tomato plant in a suburban backyard—where safety and staying alive are paramount while harvesting the bright red fruits. When he’s not getting cheap thrills from discarding “the over-ripes” at work, Theo has his eyes glued to the screen watching VHS tapes of his Indy 500 hero, French-Canadian Guy Gagne (Bill Hader of Saturday Night Live).
An accidental swim in a nitrous oxide engine at a drag race (as seen in any or all movies of The Fast and the Furious franchise) mysteriously turns the speed-obsessed snail’s slime trail into rubber burnt skid marks. His peepers are now high beams and bumping into objects triggers his in-shell car alarm. Naturally, this gets both Theo and his spineless brother Chet (voiced by the excellent Paul Giamatti) ousted from the tomato patch.
A series of unfortunate events, including a high-speed chase sequence between Theo and a murder of crows, lands the brothers at a rundown strip mall Starlight Plaza. Here they meet their human duplicates—Tito (voiced by Michael Peña) and Angelo (voiced by Luis Guzmán) of the Dos Bros Taco stall and truck. Tito, like Ratatouille’s Lou Romano and the actual Indianapolis Motor Speedway, believes the fastest pest in the world can help turn their fortunes around by signing up for the Indy 500. Angelo, Chet and we believe his idea is as dumb as the last—setting up a monkey petting zoo to sell more tacos.
A badass crew made up of Samuel L. Jackson as Whiplash, Snoop Dogg as Smoove Move and Maya Rudolph as Burn is wasted just like shop owners Ken Jeong as nail art specialist Kim Ly and Michelle Rodriguez as car mechanic Paz, with too little screen time and unfunny jokes. The gastropod races are fun the first five times but there’s only so much you can take of the critters in warp drive while zoomed in but really at snail’s pace when zoomed out. Perhaps the best part of the movie is that parents wont need to visit the toy shop for a new set of Hot Wheels, kids will be picking their own snails to race in the playground.