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Volume 24 No. 156
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DreamWorks' "Turbo" Hits Theaters Today To Mostly Positive Reviews

DreamWorks Animation SKG's "Turbo" hits theaters today, and the IndyCar-themed movie is "affable and amusing from start to finish, suitable for kids of just about any age while not boring the adults who tag along," according to Paul Doro of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The movie, directed by David Soren, is "clever without trying too hard" and "moves quickly and efficiently." The voice cast includes Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña and Bill Hader and "is a treat." If Pixar is the "gold standard in animation, 'Turbo' ... rates as a solid silver" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/17). In N.Y., Lou Lumenick writes DreamWorks "scores its first winner in years" with "Turbo." The movie is "modest by the cartoon studio's usual overblown standards." Dreamworks has "often indulged in pointless stunt casting of celebrities for its animated features, but here it works." Reynolds’ Turbo "is a delight," and Peña "comes close to stealing the show as the big-hearted Tito." Soren "nicely stages the action -- the races are exciting, but not overwhelming -- and the script he collaborated on with Darren Lemke and Robert Siegel creates more well-rounded and less stereotypical characters than often seen in DreamWorks features" (N.Y. POST, 7/17).

A FAMILY AFFAIR: In Chicago, Nell Minow writes "Turbo" is "one of this year's best family films." The film's "standouts are Giamatti as the worried but caring Chet, and the indispensable" Jackson as Whiplash, a racing snail who "leads Turbo's hilarious pit crew" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/17). In Boston, Tom Russo writes the movie "makes an entertaining go of it by borrowing very liberally from the 'Fast & Furious' franchise" and "sticking a slime trail onto 'Rocky' for the rest" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/17). In N.Y., Joe Neumaier gives the movie three stars and writes it is a "sort-of escargot-meets-'Cars' adventure." It has "some sharp vocal turns and remains fun even when its inventiveness runs out of gas" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/17). In K.C., Jon Niccum gives the movie three stars and reviews it under the header, "Snail Tale Really Moves Along" (K.C. STAR, 7/17). In Seattle, Moira Macdonald writes the movie is "implausible but nonetheless pretty adorable." The animation "won’t make you forget Pixar, but it’s as good as it needs to be and sometimes much more" (SEATTLE TIMES, 7/17). POSTMEDIA NEWS' Katherine Monk wrote, "Combined with Reynolds’s likability and comic timing, as well as the supporting cast’s sincerity in each part ... Turbo’s dramatic engine revs high." The "only real stall is the decision to cast Bill Hader as the voice of Guy Gagne." Hader "clearly has no idea what a real French-Canadian accent sounds like" (POSTMEDIA NEWS, 7/16).

CLUTCHING AT STRAWS? The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Todd McCarthy wrote it is as if the makers of Turbo were "pressed to come up with the most extreme underdog tale they could think of," or else animators "really are running out of ideas for original new characters." McCarthy wrote, "Of course, the message of the film" is that "no dream is too big, you can do anything if you set your mind to it, etc., etc." McCarthy: "Unfortunately, the real embedded lesson of Turbo is that, if you're too small or weak or otherwise incapable of greatness, you have a shot to win if you're juiced" (, 7/10). In Salt Lake City, Sean Means writes, "Unfortunately, 'Turbo' feels like the screenplay was run through the same computer, programmed to sand away anything unfamiliar or different from a dozen previous animated stories" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 7/17). In Toronto, Linda Barnard writes, "The story has some obvious parallels with previous animated flicks, most notably Disney’s Cars franchise, but Turbo doesn’t earn the same likability points as more fleshed-out characters like Lightning McQueen and lovable lug Mater" (TORONTO STAR, 7/17). MCCLATCHY's Roger Moore gave the film a C+ and wrote it is "light on the jokes, but cute, with animation so vivid it looks photo-real." As "vivid as the race scenes are," if "we want to watch photo-real auto-racing we can turn on the TV" (MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE, 7/16).

IT GETS THE JOB DONE: USA TODAY's Claudia Puig writes the film is "good-natured but generic." Some of the 3D effects, "particularly during races, amp up the derivative story, and the animation is well-rendered" (USA TODAY, 7/17). In Philadelphia, David Hiltbrand writes, "Kids aren't a very demanding audience." If there is "color, movement, and a high quotient of silliness, they're happy." Turbo "does offer those elements," but "not much more" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/17). In Albany, Peter Hartlaub reviews the movie under the header, "Snail's Tale A Drag" (Albany TIMES UNION, 7/17). VARIETY's Peter Debruge wrote the film is an "endearing underdog story." It is "plenty appealing, especially for younger auds, though it will be a stretch for this snail tale to snare the crowd it needs to recoup its nine-figure budget." The film "adheres to an otherwise safe formula, combining cute cartoon characters with the standard all-American 'dream big' message" (, 7/10). In Phoenix, Bill Goodykoontz writes the movie is "ultimately a disappointment, if mildly so" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/17).