Full disclosure: I hate spoilers in reviews, so there won’t be any in this one. TURBO is a fun family-friendly film about a snail who wants to race. He wants to race not other snails, but cars. Ridiculous premise, but this is a cartoon, so anything goes. TURBO opens in theaters Wednesday, July 17. For all of the press materials, updates, images, and trailers for TURBO, click here, and continue reading for the full spoiler-free review of TURBO.
The film opens with cars racing around a track. The scene moves from overhead, looking down on the track, to the point-of-view of the racing cars, then pulls back through the television screen, to show that the viewer is a snail. Theo, a garden snail, craves speed. He dreams of being the next Guy Gagné, the fastest driver in the world (the world of the film, of course) – he wears pieces of crossword puzzles on his shell to represent the checkered flag and he even trains, racing against a ruler to take minutes off his pace.
Theo’s brother, Chet, grouses and grumbles about his impossible dream, trying to keep him in the real world, where Theo’s daydreaming is endangering his work prospects. Work? Yes, these garden snails work in a tomato plant (get it?); Chet is the safety manager and Theo manages the overripe chute. The trouble starts when Theo (who prefers to be called Turbo, so I’m going to switch to Turbo now) thinks he’s faster than he is and attempts to race a lawnmower.
Turbo takes off and, via misadventures and a “freak accident,” ends up truly turbo. After a disastrous standoff with a “shell crusher,” Turbo and Chet both get fired (given the number of snails picked off by crows, it’s not surprising that Chet, the safety manager, gets the axe, too). Chet and Turbo, after another series of misadventures, get picked up by Tito, a snail racer (who knew?) who is a dreamer, too. Tito drives a taco truck for his brother, Angelo, and has big dreams about getting the world to fall in love with Angelo’s tacos – the world’s best.
Tito enters Turbo in the Starlight Plaza snail races, where Turbo learns that he’s not the only snail who yearns to be fast and that he is now, truly, fast. The Starlight Plaza racing snails bring in a whole new charm to the film, giving Turbo the support and encouragement he never got back in the garden, and Tito somehow divines Turbo’s ultimate dream, taking it on as his own dream and the ticket to showcasing Angelo’s talents. More adventures and misadventures follow, but you’ll have to watch the film to learn what they are and how they turn out.
TURBO is, essentially, a tale of two brothers. Twice. Each pair of siblings has a dreamer and a dream killer… well, not so much a dream killer as someone afraid to dream for himself or content enough with the status quo not to want anything to change that, including the dream of his baby brother.
It could be argued that the “safe” brothers had dreams of their own that have already been fulfilled and are afraid that the dreams of their younger brothers will endanger their security and serenity in their fulfilled dreams. These pairs of brothers are two sides of the same coins, flipping and turning, each finding new dreams to yearn for and achieve. Each set of brothers has a circle of friends who support the dreamer (the snail posse is much more amusing than the human crew), giving them even more reason to reject their dream-killer brothers’ pleas to be realistic about their prospects. Dreams come in all sizes and the dream focused on in this film is big, overshadowing the smaller dreams of the older brothers. Small dreams should count, too, as should the work it takes to make them come true.
The voice-acting is wonderful, especially the snails! Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson) and Smoove Move (Snoop Dogg) are my favorites. The soundtrack is thumping (and includes my running power song – Jump by House of Pain – but all of the music is great) and matches the action perfectly.
Once I set aside the improbability of the premise and the outcome, I got drawn into the movie and cheered on the dreamers and hoped the dream-killers would come around. I think children will enjoy the movie. It could be seen as geared more towards boys than girls, because of the car racing and the snails, but I think girls will enjoy the movie, too, especially the snails, which are pastel and kind of pretty, plus it’s an underdog story, which everyone loves.