This is a children’s adventure flick about a snail—yes, a snail. In this animated DreamWorks winner, Theo (aka “Turbo”) is the unlikely hero, and I fell in love with him and his impossible quest for fame.
Theo dreams of competing in the Indianapolis 500, but he moves at a snail’s pace. Everyone in the world thinks he is certifiably insane for dreaming that big. This crazy snail believes and is prepared to risk it all for one slim, itty-bitty shot. In that spirit, it shares a lot with Pixar’s “Ratatouille,” but “Turbo” has a sweet, urban edge and sound that make it a clear stand-out.
Back in the garden, Theo hates his routine job harvesting tomato plants. His day is filled with boredom—not to mention dangerous, ravenous crows that try to eat him. At night, he’s glued to the TV set; he watches the highlights of his idol, French racing champ Guy Gagne (whose name literally means “to win”), winning the Indy 500.
Theo then gets sucked into a street racer’s engine and drenched in nitrous oxide, which conveniently rewrites his genetic code, allowing him the speed he’s always craved.
In a blink of an eye, Theo is transformed into Turbo, making his racing aspirations a possibility. His big brother Chet (Paul Giamatti) wishes his spacey brother would wake up from his daydreams and find joy in his drab, tomato-gathering existence.
Turbo meets another starry-eyed dreamer named Tito (Michael Peña), who is one half of the Dos Bros Tacos (with Luis Guzmán). Tito is part of a group of struggling, small-time business owners (Michelle Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins and Ken Jeong, the latter of whom is given ample space to steal scenes as a feisty, old Chinese lady) who do snail racing as a side hustle.
Once the enterprising business folks see Turbo’s speed, clocking in at more than 200 miles per hour, Tito decides to enter him into the Indy 500. His reasoning is sound: If Turbo wins, it will bring customers to the failing businesses.
Yes, you read that correctly; he enters a snail in the Indy 500. Making playful use of 3D animation along the way, the film shows the CG-animated toon racing past the obstacle of convincing the organizers to allow a snail to compete.
This is definitely a lesson for kids to keep trying when there are obstacles in their way, but it is also a lesson in cooperation and creative ingenuity.
The journey is sweeter and funnier with the help of a few fearless racing snails (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Rudolph and Snoop Dogg), who do the impossible sans a freaky DNA boost.
Co-writer and director David Soren lets his inner kid loose and the laughs come from the right mix of urban, funny voices with snappy editing. There are sweet and clever character bits, including a recurring joke about an inappropriately named sidekick who calls himself White Shadow (Michael Patrick Bell).
The voices, the souls of these characters, whose clever individual personalities could support several film spin-offs, make this a film to add to your family library.
For more information, visit www.turbomovie.com.