A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Great Escape
From the outset, Sammy’s Great Escape looks wholly unpromising. A cheap Finding Nemo knock-off, the story’s premise seems no more original or humorous than its predecessor or Pixar’s memorable clownfish tale. It packs in a listless script and sub-par animation. I’m not even sure whether I can say that the film’s (only) enjoyment springs from its simplicity, because I’m no longer 6 years old. But there were no cries or wails of protest from the audience, so it’s safe to assume that Sammy’s Great Escape may in fact appeal to its demographic.
In Sammy’s Great Escape, Sammy and Ray are now grandparents and watch as their little hatchling grandkids slide into the sea for the very first time, before Sammy and Ray are captured by a set of poachers. The turtles are taken to a lavish aquarium catering to wealthy humans and their appetite for expensive lobster. In the tank, Sammy and Ray meet Big D, a gangster seahorse and his two French eel henchmen, who enlist the turtles in their escape plan. But something fishy is going on – does Big D have any ulterior motives? (yes) Meanwhile two of Sammy and Ray’s grandchildren – Ricky and Ella – devise a plan in order to save them, encountering terrifying crabs and barracudas along the way. But why is there a schizophrenic lobster and an ugly blob fish-thing that rises from the dead? Why can no-one in this film choose one accent and stick with it? I don’t know and I don’t actually care.
There are a worrying amount of inconsistencies in Sammy’s Great Escape in comparison to its predecessor. For starters, Ray (one of our favourite turtles) is no longer an Irish gambling tramp. He’s an old and weathered grandfather turtle with an African American voice – obviously. Sammy’s voice is deathly boring (and no longer John Hurt). For those unaware of Sammy’s Adventures the fact that he’s deemed a hero at all is mildly bemusing – Sammy is as flat as a pancake and a wholly unmemorable character. While being inoffensive and sweet, it’ll be difficult for parents and carers to find much joy in the film; it lacks the clever humour prevalent in Pixar films that makes those animations an easy and entertaining ride.
That being said, there are some fun characters for the young’uns to enjoy. The schizophrenic crab, while desperately in need of serious psychological help, provides some lively entertainment. Jimbo the blob fish delivers most of the film’s gags and the devilish and scheming Big D is a scary enough Martin Scorsese-type villain. That’s about it. The rest of the characters are flat and expressionless, with unimpressive voices and boring personalities, particularly Annabelle the Octopus’ mother. My one and only favourite was a hammer shark who kept on ‘hammering’ himself into the glass walls of the aquarium, because that’s what I would be doing if I was in the film. He’s mental and intriguing enough to hold some interest in, and provides some surprisingly deep thoughts.
It’s important to remember that Sammy’s Great Escape is clearly aimed at a very young audience, and parents or carers willing to sit through the film (a thankfully short 93 mins) will struggle to find much of interest aside from the bright colours and the mentally disturbed hammer shark. Rick and Ella are adorable hatchlings, so that’s something, but “fun for all ages” is a delusional description. Sammy’s Great Escape is also careful to prod and poke you with eco-friendly ideals, such as HUMANS ARE BAD for capturing fishes and sea-life and stuffing them into big fancy aquariums purely for decorative entertainment, but it’s a harmless enough message to swallow. All in all it’s a sweet tale of adventure for the young to be pleasantly distracted by, but will undoubtedly live in Finding Nemo‘s shadow… forever.