By Sierra Filucci,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Speedy snail dreams big in fun animated comedy.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Intended for entertainment, not education, but kids will be introduced to the sport of professional car racing.
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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.
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Based on 16 parent reviews
Fun family film
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Good family fun
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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?
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.
Talk to Your Kids 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?
- In theaters: July 17, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: November 12, 2013
- Cast: Michael Pena, Paul Giamatti, Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson
- Director: David Soren
- Inclusion Information: Latinx actors, Black actors
- Studio: DreamWorks Animation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild action and thematic elements
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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