Turbo

  • Review Date: July 15, 2013
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2013

Common Sense Media says

Speedy snail dreams big in fun animated comedy.
  • Review Date: July 15, 2013
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2013

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Intended for entertainment, not education, but kids will be introduced to the sport of professional car racing.

Positive messages

The movie is steeped in positive messages, which are reinforced repeatedly: "No dream is too big, no dreamer too small." Plus, never give up, believe in yourself, and make the most of today. It also emphasizes the importance of having supportive friends and family. On the downside, there's a little bit of weight-related humor at the expense of a large snail who can't fit back into his shell.

Positive role models

Turbo is full of energy, enthusiasm, and big dreams, just like his human buddy, Tito. Both have siblings who are frustrated by their brothers' repeated attempts to accomplish something big. Secondary characters are mostly supportive or there for comic relief. The human characters are exaggerated types whose characteristics make them borderline stereotypes (Asian nail salon owner, pasty hobby shop guy, tough female auto mechanic). The villain starts out heroic, if vain, and ends up a big meanie.

Violence & scariness

Several scenes that are perilous but not super scary, including a snail's encounter with a lawnmower, a dangerous trek past a freeway and through urban streets, and a big car crash in which folks are dazed but not seriously injured. Several scenes in which a crow swoops down and picks off a snail, presumably ending in death to the snail. A crow gets hit by a bus. Some comments about someone being "dead meat" or being "slaughtered," which the snails take as threats -- but the comments end up being innocuous.

Sexy stuff

One scene in which a group of male snails makes comments while looking at something -- "nice curves," "giant juicy temptress," etc. -- but it ends up being a tomato. A female snail flirts briefly with a male snail, and later they seem to be a couple.

Language

Some teasing and occasional use of terms like "son of a gun." A few snails have potty-related names like "Skid Mark" and "Smoove Moove."

Consumerism

Product placement includes Chevy, Verizon, and HP. There are off-screen licensing deals in place as well.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In one scene, adults seem to be drinking bottled beer with their meals.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Turbo is a funny animated underdog comedy with strong positive messages. Themes that run throughout the movie (and are reinforced constantly) include believing in yourself, following your dreams, and never giving up. Kids will find the silly characters endlessly amusing, with only a little bit of innuendo, stereotyping, and potty humor to contend with. The biggest concern is the repeated scenes of peril, in which the beloved snails seem to be in danger thanks to a lawnmower, a busy freeway, plentiful crows, and a car crash. But all scenes involving major characters are resolved positively.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

TURBO (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) is a speed-obsessed garden snail who, more than anything, wants to compete in the Indy 500. He's a misfit in his slow-moving snail community until a freak accident with Nitrous Oxide gives him car-like abilities, including eyes that light up like headlights, a red-blinking shell akin to taillights, and, of course, speed. When Turbo and his naysaying brother, Chet (Paul Giamatti), are captured by human Tito (Michael Pena), whose after-hours snail racing hobby reveals Turbo's remarkable talents, Turbo and his misfit band of supporters make their way to Indianapolis, where Turbo becomes an unlikely competitor in the most famous race in the world.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Turbo does lots of things right when it comes to making an engaging, funny animated movie for kids. It's got a main character kids can root for and relate to, plus a menagerie of supporting characters who amp up the laughs (White Shadow, voiced by Michael Bell, steals the show). Kids don't care that the concept of a snail being allowed to race in the Indy 500 is completely implausible and full of logic problems. (Nor do they care that the tacos featured in the taco stand/truck aren't authentic.) They'll love the little details, like when Tito puts Turbo to bed with a packet of taco sauce for a pillow and a warm tortilla for a blanket.

But the movie's simplicity and lack of surprises are what keep it from being a true stand-out for kids. We never doubt that Turbo and Tito will be successful. Any subplots are sped through with little attention. And while the urban setting, hip-hop soundtrack, and ethnically diverse cast are welcome additions to the kids' movie pantheon, the setting doesn't feel fully realized. Overall, kids will totally enjoy the movie, but it might not stick in their minds for long.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about movies being realistic. Do you think it's important that stories seem believable in real life? Is it hard to enjoy a movie if the concept seems too far-fetched?

  • What did you notice about where Turbo was set? Have you seen any other animated movies set in urban environments like this one? Did the characters seem to fit the location? Did you notice any stereotypes?

  • What kinds of dreams do you have? Who supports your dreams? Does anyone tell you your dreams are unrealistic? How do you feel when that happens?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 17, 2013
DVD release date:November 12, 2013
Cast:Michael Pena, Paul Giamatti, Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson
Director:David Soren
Studio:DreamWorks Animation
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Cars and trucks, Brothers and sisters, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:96 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some mild action and thematic elements

This review of Turbo was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written bySean Broucek July 16, 2013
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

Good.

Parents, this fun animated comedy from the director of "Despicable Me" has plenty of positive messages and some peril to entertain kids, but the more intense subject matter and peril makes it best for kids above the age of 7. Violence is almost nothing, except for one intense action sequence that will upset sensitive kids, especially in 3D format. No sexuality. Language is limited to some brief crude humor. In the end, this laughable family-friendly comedy is best for kids 7 and up. Rated PG For Thematic Elements, Some Brief Crude Humor, And An Intense Action Sequence.

Parent of a 8 year old Written byBabbit July 20, 2013
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

It's a kids movie afterall...

TURBO is actually a kids movie, for kids, with a happy ending, a positive message, and limited scares (not sure the crows would rank as scary). It's a simple story with simple yet, motivated and passionate characters, characters we can relate to... I think the 'speed' of the movie is just right. We keep pushing the bar on excitement and action so high that kids can't actually digest moments in movies. This movie can be digested. You shouldn't find any moments needing the dodge. You won't need to walk your kids out because the scary is too scary. After the movie you can pick a message to discuss; never giving up, being supportive of a dreams even if you don't agree with the dreamer, building your dream not matter what others say. Kudos to DreamWorks for staying kid focused because the kids are the audience, not teenagers or parents.

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written bySamlovesz July 17, 2013
AGE
3
QUALITY
 

Looked funny but very disappointing.

I saw this movie Today. With all the commercials and hype I've been hearing on TV for the last 2 months I was very disappointed. This movie looked really appealing and funny, it was kid friendly but not very funny for adults. It had many jokes kids would laugh at but over all it just didn't make sense at all. Overall the movie was very unorganized and not what I expected. I'm very disappointed.

What other families should know
Too much consumerism

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