Turbo is the kind of kids movie they need to make more often. It was witty, original, funny, engrossing, and well made. It delivered a solid and well-intentioned message for children and managed to create tension and conflict without resorting to an over the top villain that would be too scary and out of place for the target audience. This is a welcome addition to the children’s film market and I much preferred it over the likes of Despicable Me 2. While that film felt like a cute cash grab without a ton of substance, this film manages to feel mostly fresh and benefits from being funny throughout.
Turbo is the story of a snail that wants to be fast. After a freak accident reminiscent of Spider-Man’s origins our lead character (Theo voiced by Ryan Reynolds) is given superpowers that allow him to move at speeds of upwards of 200 miles per hour. Theo has always dreamed of competing in the Indy 500 and now he just may have his chance. Theo has a brother named Chet (Paul Giamatti) who represents safety and is typical of the snail community at large. Chet wants Theo to settle down and stop dreaming of something that he can’t have. Through a series of dangerous encounters Chet and Theo find themselves in the hands of a taco shop owner (Tito voiced by Michael Pena) with dreams of something bigger. After hours at the strip mall where the taco stand is located Tito and his strip mall shop owner friends race snails for amusement. This group of racing snails is led by Whiplash who is voiced to perfection by Samuel L. Jackson. In typical kids movie fashion, Theo learns from this ragtag group of individuals about achieving your dreams and striving for the things you want out of life. After a raucous 20 minutes or so of fundraising to get the entry fee Tito, Theo, and the rest are off to the Indy 500.
There are life lessons throughout the film as there always are in movies of this sort, but I found them to be endearing and honest. Go for your dreams. Don’t live in fear. Don’t let someone else determine your life for you. All of these are good messages for kids to hear and I felt that they were delivered in a way that will allow them to be understood. I’m always grateful when a kids movie has convictions to stand behind that are a little more substantial than toy sales. I recommend this as a good family fare choice and probably one of the better animated movies to come out in the last few years.