The two biggest problems with Turbo, the latest animation from Dreamworks, both revolve around a word that is fatal to the success of a film: boring. The first is a surface problem, in that snails are boring. They are boring creatures, regardless of whether you pimp their shells or inject them with nitroglycerine. So a film in which the main character is a snail is onto a loser already. They are especially boring to look at, amorphous blobs of flesh with shells plonked on top that have to be jazzed up by the animators by making them all different colours. Only, the animators didn’t go that far in that each of the snails are just one colour, not dappled and slimy like the invertebrates in Epic. No, these are just smooth splodges of purple and orange with googly eyes tacked on. One of them has a moustache made of moss. This painful want of inventiveness becomes particularly problematic when the design of the humans is similarly uninspired, resulting in a film where not one single character holds your attention visually. In spite of using the latest animation technology, it’s an aesthetically dull film and far less interesting to the eye than A Bug’s Life or Antz, which work at a similar scale but were released well over a decade ago. This boringness suggests laziness, which is disheartening to see in animation.
The second boring aspect of Turbo, a thoroughly soporific film, is the story, which involves a plucky outsider wanting to compete above his league in a racing tournament. This is the same plot as Planes. He does this in order to save a run down area of shops run by some stereotypes by bringing business back. This is the same plot as Cars. When you mix the plots of Planes and Cars, two of the most snooze-inducing animations of the 21st Century, the result is a dull, thudding familiarity lacking any conviction. There are a few good jokes, mostly involving crows, but at the end of the day it’s difficult to enjoy a film that is about a snail saving a taco stand. Once again I return to this one word that summarises the film best: boring. Boring, boring, boring.