Dreamworks has been hitting the animated feature film thing hard, as of late. They’ve released numerous pseudo-hallmark children’s films such as How To Train Your Dragon, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, and Despicable Me in rapid succession. Unfortunately, Dreamworks has also released a slew of duds. Films such as The Croods, Rise of the Guardians, and Turbo have all failed to strike a chord with viewers.
Part of the reason why Turbo, the most recent Dreamworks film, failed at the box office could be its schizophrenic hodgepodge of narrative influences. Turbo is the story of a young snail named Theo aka Turbo who, in a bizarre accident, gains the power of super speed. Theo then goes on to use this power to enter the Indy 500 and race against… cars. Yes, a snail races against actual cars. Sadly, the film is as poorly thought out as it sounds. Most of the narrative really doesn’t hold up if you’re older than six years old. The film is a bizarre cocktail of street racing films like Fast and the Furious and super hero archetypes but aimed at very young children.
The chief issue that arises when viewing the film is that it seems to have been made by people who are either unaware of racial stereo types or decided to capitalize on them full boar. Nearly every character that isn’t a snail is a one dimensional ethnic stereotype. The first humans that Turbo befriends are who hispanic brothers who run a mexican food truck. The speak in ‘chollo’ accents and are lacking in the intelligence department. As the narrative unfolds there are an entire supporting cast that are all comprised of characters confined to ethnic pigeon-holing. There’s an asian character who runs a nail salon and speaks in broken english, an older white man who runs a hobby shop and a younger Latina who is an auto mechanic. The cringe worthy moments in the movie are so numerous it would be pointless to attempt to recount them all. Needless to say the film was made by a bunch of old white people in a dark building somewhere in Venice.
The film itself is a drear and lifeless organism. Non of the many, obviously disparate, narrative influences really sing together. The film feels disjointed and clunky. There really isn’t anything about the film that would justify spending 200 million on it. I can’t, for the life of me, comprehend why Dreamworks greenlit this thing. It’s a vapid, empty hole of a movie that even a anyone over the age of seven wouldn’t be interested in. In fact, in the screening I attended a family got up after 25 minutes and walked out. And you know what? The kids were ecstatic about their leaving.