Turbo

Movie review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Turbo Movie Poster Image
Speedy snail dreams big in fun animated comedy.
  • PG
  • 2013
  • 96 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 33 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8 year old Written byBabbit July 20, 2013

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 simp... Continue reading
Parent of a 2 and 4 year old Written byNLHolly December 7, 2013

Great Family Movie

Loved this. Less social aggression than most movies. Great characters, great themes of brotherhood. Agree with official review that the snails get into peril a... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bySamlovesz July 17, 2013

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 a... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bySean Broucek July 16, 2013

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... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love animation and underdogs

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