Texas Art & Film's Dr. Donna Copeland's Film Reviews & Features
Turbo gives snails a better rap.  It takes the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” and converts it to a modern-day race at the Indy 500.  Little do the participants of that race know that one particular major fan of the Indy 500, now with the pseudonym “Turbo” (Ryan Reynolds), has gotten a dose of some ingredient that powers their engines to give him super-powers.  The tale is told primarily from the point of view that snails are slow, and hence, rather dull and unimaginative—like Turbo’s brother, Chet (Paul Giametti).  It is directed toward those who assume that to follow the rules and do what one is told is better than dreaming.  But the message of this movie is “No dream is too big, and no dreamer is too small.”  This is spoken with braggadocio by the reigning star Guy Gagne (Bill Hader), who loves the limelight at whatever cost.  So children get a lesson on the rewards dreaming can bring, but on hubris as well.
                  The writers, Darren Lemke, Robert D. Siegel, and David Soren (who is also director), have created a highly entertaining film with good messages for kids.  It has a scenario that speaks to both children and adults about listening to new ideas.  To children, it says, “Dream!” even when the older people are discouraging you.  To adults, it says to listen to children; maybe all their ideas are not so unworkable and outlandish, that maybe it’s time to get up to speed with the contemporary world. 
                  Another delightful aspect of the film is the mixing up of white, Latino, and black ethnicities in a way that they are on equal footing, yet highlights the assets of each group.  Tito (Michael Pena) and Angelo (Luis Guzman) are the lovable brothers who want to make tacos for everyone.  Smooth Move (Snoop Dog), Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson), and other snails from the brotherhood are there to demonstrate their ingenious ways to further the cause.  The message about “race” is subtle rather than overt, humorous rather than serious, which makes it more salient.  This is a message to us as adults, that cooperation and support of others outside our own group brings great rewards.  Everyone has a role to play in this drama, even the naysayers, who are often the proponents of safety and careful planning.
                  Dreamworks Animation has hits and misses, but Turbo is a clear hit.  The animation is skilled, colorful, and easy to follow.  Casting is perfect with Ryan Reynolds in the boyish lead role, Paul Giamatti as the skeptical older brother, Michael Pena and Luis Guzman as the “Bros”, and Bill Hader standing out as the silver-tongued devil, reigning star of the Indy 500.  The ticket price for the 3D version is not really essential.                                                                                                                                                            Grade:  A


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