'Turbo' Drives Home Positive Life Lessons With High-Octane Underdog Tale

'Turbo' opened July 17.
'Turbo' opened July 17.

Forget about the little engine, this is about the little snail that could.  

Forget about reality also, as Turbo tells the impossible-to-believe tale of an everyday garden snail who wants to achieve his biggest dream—win the Indianapolis 500. The 3-D comedy's premise may be farfetched, but DreamWorks Animation’s latest toon is family friendly, offering lots of fun and excitement for kids and adults alike.

It also borrows its underdog story somewhat from Pixar’s Ratatouille, in which Remy the rat dreams of becoming a chef. But Turbo is endearing, winsome and “better fast than furious”—as its tagline touts. 

Toiling at the tomato plant by day with his older brother Chet (voiced by Paul Giamatti), Theo/Turbo (Ryan Reynolds) spends all his non-working time watching VHS tapes of his idol, French racing champ Guy Gagné (Bill Hader). 

“The sooner you accept the dull, miserable nature of your existence, the happier you'll be,” Chet advises Turbo. 

But the sluggish Turbo doesn't stop dreaming. When he gets sucked into a street racer’s engine and overwhelmed with nitrous oxide, his genetic code is rewritten—giving Turbo the speed he’s always desired.

Turbo then encounters Southern California taco truck driver Tito (Michael Peña), a dreamer like the snail with hair·brained ideas promoting his business Dos Bros Tacos with his practical brother Angelo (Luis Guzmán). 

Turbo learns that no one succeeds on their own after making fast friends with a crew of streetwise, tricked-out escargoes: Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson), Smoove Move (Snoop Dogg), Burn (Maya Rudolph) and Skidmark (Ben Schwartz). 

So Turbo puts his heart and shell on the line to help his pals achieve their dreams—before super-charging his own impossible dream: winning the Indy 500.

Although the film is obviously going after the Fast & Furious crowd, with its African-American and Latino supporting cast as well as Henry Jackman’s hip-hop-themed score, Turbo goes the extra mile by offering positive life lessons about passions and dreams, friendship, family and responsibility.

Turbo presents a faith-affirming portrayal of the two sets of brothers, Turbo and Chet, and Tito and Angelo—the true champions of the film. 

Content Watch: Rated PG for some mild action and thematic elements, Turbo is surprisingly tame in terms of double entendres and potty humor—considering DreamWorks has used those elements in its previous films ShrekMadagascar and Kung Fu Panda. The supporting case of snails tend to be smart-mouthed mollusks. Several snails are grabbed by crows and presumably eaten. Turbo's speed transformation is basically a chemical enhancement, which echoes the steroid use prevalent in today's sports world.

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