In the past couple of years, Dreamworks Animation has made a shift from movies like Shark Tale and Shrek to higher-quality works like Kung Fu Panda (sequels excluded), the hugely underrated Megamind, and How To Train Your Dragon, which garnered a near-Pixar 98% "Certified Fresh" score on Rotten Tomatoes. In fact, the rise of Dreamworks seemed to coincide almost perfectly with Pixar's micro-fall from public graces: Cars 2 was widely panned, Brave was widely criticized as being good but somehow not very Pixar, and the movie studio canceled several in-development new properties while renewing older films for sequels.
It seemed for about six months, after 2012's Brave marked Pixar's second underwhelming film in as many years, that Dreamworks Animation could overtake Pixar, if not in quality then just in sheer public goodwill. It was hard for Dreamworks to disappoint people when nobody expected anything, and the exact opposite was true for Pixar.
Well, to anyone else who follows the vacillating fates of Pixar and Dreamworks Animation like most people follow sports teams: it was a fluke, guys, we can go on home. Turbo is a staggeringly average showing for the studio, as shallow and transparently message-laden as anything Dreamworks Studios has produced in years.
(There is one bright spot, though: a running joke about crows unexpectedly snatching snails and flying off with them, presumably to the snails' doom, got the hardest laughs from me. But notably, none of the children in the theater seemed to agree with me.)
The film centers around a snail named Theo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) who dreams of racing in the Indy 500. After a pleasantly surreal encounter with a car engine full of NO2, Theo ...1
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