PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a suburban San Fernando Valley garden, Theo, a.k.a Turbo, is a snail who dreams of being the greatest racer in the world, just like his hero, 5-time Indianapolis 500 champ, Guy Gagné. His obsession with speed and all things fast has made him an oddity and an outsider in the slow and cautious snail community, and a constant embarrassment to his cautious older brother, Chet. Turbo desperately wishes he could escape the slow-paced life he’s living, but his one chance to live proves a near fatal disaster when he tries to recover a prize tomato and needs to be rescued by Chet.

Demoralized, Theo wanders onto a freeway to admire the traffic and wishes on the very first star (which is actually an airplane light), “I wish…I wish I was fast”. Suddenly, he gets into a freak accident when he gets sucked into the supercharger of a drag racer, fusing his DNA with nitrous oxide on a street race. The next day, when Theo wakes up from unconsciousness, his incident the night before finds himself vested with the power of incredible speed and accuracy, as well as some of the characteristics of an actual car, such as eyes that light up like headlights, and a shell that blinks red like taillights and makes car sounds and music from a radio.

Unfortunately, Theo’s first attempt to show this power off ends with him crashing a Big Wheel tricycle into the garden, getting himself and Chet fired from the garden crew. As the siblings quarrel, Chet is snatched by a crow, but is pursued and rescued by Theo at a run down strip mall where they are then captured by Tito, a “Dos Bros” taco truck driver and is brought to race with other snails. Theo astounds both human and snail alike with his speed and earns the respect of the snails, led by Whiplash, with his crew Smoove Move, Burn, Skidmark, and White Shadow, who have impressive skills of their own.

Inspired by this extraordinary snail, Tito dreams to revive the strip mall with Theo as an attraction, and eventually with the help of the snails who manage to divert and strand a tour bus and drum up impressive business. At this success, Theo convinces Tito to try to enter the snail in Indianapolis 500 as a competitor. While Tito’s brother, Angelo, still declines to support him, the neighbors agree to put up the entrance fee and accompany them to Indianapolis. Once there, Tito is refused entry into the race, but a chance meeting with Guy Gagné gives Turbo a chance to show off his speed which astounds the race track at the snail qualifying for the race.

This impossible feat soon becomes a sensation on social media and the owner of the race gives in to the pressure, egged on by Gagné himself, to let the snail compete. However, the night before the race, Turbo is demoralized when his hero, Gagné, sneers at his attempt to race while Chet confesses that he cannot bear to see his brother endanger himself. Undeterred, Turbo enters the race the next day, but the dangerous racetrack and the far more experienced competition leaves him trailing in last place.

At a pitstop, Whiplash and his crew give Turbo a vital pep talk, advising him to stop racing like a car. Back in the race, Turbo realizes what they mean and uses his small size to maximum advantage with maneuvers around and under the competition that no human racer can emulate. With the snail rapidly gaining in the standings, Gagné starts racing dirty and manages to knock Turbo against the circuit wall, damaging his shell and weakening his speed powers. Eventually, in the final stretch with Turbo in the lead, Gagné tries a desperate maneuver to beat the snail and gets into a major crash that snares most of the competitors in a major pileup. Similarly, Turbo is thrown, waking up once again from unconsciousness with his shell punctured and his speed all but gone.

Alarmed at seeing Turbo giving up and retreating into his shell barely a few feet from the finish line, Chet puts himself into incredible dangers to meet up with Whiplash’s crew to get to the racer. Seeing his brother and friends arrive riding crows to encourage him to continue, Turbo resumes the race. Unfortunately, Gagné, refusing to lose, singlemindedly pursues him by dragging his wrecked car after the snail and attempts to crush him. At the last second, Chet tells Turbo to tuck and roll into his shell at Gagné’s last blow and the force allows him to tumble past the finish line to win.

At this victory, the strip mall becomes a major attraction with all the businesses becoming spectacular successes including extremely elaborate snail races with Whiplash’s crew getting special propulsion aids for their shells, while Chet is content as the track referee. As for Turbo, he becomes happier discovering that his shell has healed, and with that, his superspeed has returned.


With the success of Pixar’s Cars, DreamWorks decided they wanted to get their piece of the pie that included kids that liked racing with Turbo. I won’t get into the debate about which is better because they are two different films, but I will say that no matter what you think of either, kids will love them regardless.

What is this about?

A speed-obsessed snail who dreams of being the world’s greatest race car driver gets his chance when a freak accident imbues him with high-octane speed. But he soon learns he’ll need the help of his friends if he’s going to go the distance.

What did I like?

Parallel. There is a dynamic between Turbo and his brother and the Dos Tacos brothers that really parallels each other as the younger brother is a visionary, for lack of a better term, while the older brother is the more grounded cynical type. At one point during the film, they are both fussing at the respective siblings and seem to finish each other’s thought processes (sometimes sentences). I found this to be quite the sight and some impressive creativity on the part of the filmmakers.

Speed. I was listening to a podcast a couple of days ago and they brought up an interesting point. Turbo gets his speed powers by being doused in Nitrous Oxide. In some ways this is similar to how the Flash gets his speed powers (he gets doused in chemicals). So, basically Turbo could be a super hero. If you watch the film and notice some of the feats he accomplishes, superhero could be in his future, if he wanted to. That point aside, it was a masterful idea to have a snail compete in the Indy 500. Who would have ever thought of that?

Crew. They may have been a small part of the film, relatively, but I was enjoying the Starlight Crew. Each of them had a different, unique personality and they really embraced Turbo…and eventually his brother. Given the fact that he needed someone to have his back and help him through the race, they really came in handy. Leave us not forget the voice talents of Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Rudolph, and Snoop Dogg who lend their pipes to these snails.

What didn’t I like?

Turbo. Ryan Reynolds does a great job lending his voice to Turbo, but there is a rather large section about half way through the films, starting with the montage that he just stops talking. Sure, some people are easily annoyed by Reynolds, but this is a character that needed a voice. To take that away from him I felt hindered his development as a character, as well as his relationship with the others, including the humans.

Lacking. In this day and age, kids movies need to show some imagination. That wasn’t happening here as the film follows a very formulaic premise that, as one critic said, “…even the average 6-year-old couldn’t imagine…” I applaud the bright colors and the comedy, but can’t get past how that, other than how Turbo got his speed and the climax (which put me in the mind of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby), everything was so predictable.

Dead horse. There is a character that calls himself the “White shadow” and it apparently is a joke that he appears out of nowhere. Ok, that’s fine, but it turns out to be one of those jokes that they run into the ground and never really works, no matter how much they want it to or hard they try.

I had a little chuckle to myself about Turbo. Think about that slug monster who was rushing to get to class in Monsters University but took the whole semester to get there. Think about what kind of film we’d have if he got super speed! You can argue that it would be more entertaining, but the truth is, this isn’t that bad of a film. It was just overshadowed by the aforementioned Monsters and Despicable Me 2. So, chances are you had your fill of children’s films when this was released and skipped it. Not to mention there isn’t much for the adults in the film, either, except for maybe a couple of songs that are played. That being said, I still give this a pretty high recommendation. If nothing else, the comedy and uplifting story will put a smile on your face!

4 out of 5 stars


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