Stoner heist comedy lacks pop; drug use, language.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Turbo Cola is a teen heist film that takes place on Y2K. Adapted from Samantha Oty's stage play New Year's Eve at the Stop-n-Go, it's reminiscent of Kevin Smith's 1994 cult-classic Clerks, with stoner protagonists, drug dealers, a convenience store setting, and women portrayed as sexual objects. Teens talk about and have sex. The main character's love interest is the subject of rumors and gossip about being promiscuous and stands up to them. Language is crude and profane, with frequent use of "ass," "damn," "d--k," "goddammit," "s--t," "f--k," and much more. Characters use pot and cocaine, and there's a drug dealer who sells to kids. Violence includes a shooting with some blood and a teen carrying a gun around to show that he's cool/tough.
Fun Trip to the 90s!
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What's the Story?
In TURBO COLA, Austin Morris (Nicholas Stoesser) and his best bud, Swearsky (Jared Spears), are planning the perfect heist at Austin's workplace, the Quality Mart, on New Year's Eve 1999 -- aka Y2K, when massive computer glitches are expected. As long as they can keep their hot-headed childhood friend Jimmy (Landon Tavernier) away, it should all go smoothly.
Is It Any Good?
Turbo Cola may be a first: a comedy seemingly made as an homage to two "classics" that leaves viewers disappointed in all three films. It's best described as Clerks meets Ocean's 11, but those films captured lightning in a bottle. Clerks was the kind of low-budget filmmaking that was a snapshot of the mid '90s, and while Turbo Cola's drug dealer Jimmy has a very '90s look, there's nothing in the movie's production design, acting, or writing that truly makes viewers believe that this high school crew is about to party like it's really 1999. The slickly shot Ocean's 11, meanwhile, was hailed for setting the heist-film bar when it came out in 2001, with electric banter and excellent cast chemistry. But watching Turbo Cola only makes it clear how much Clerks doesn't hold up and how the plot of Ocean's 11 is unlikely and ridiculous.
What's more, one strongly off-note performance in Turbo Cola's climax threatens the credibility of the entire piece. All of that said, as a whole -- and as a piece of independent filmmaking -- there's enough showmanship here to get most of the talent their next gig. The plot about high school seniors who are desperate to get out of their small town may be enough to satisfy teens. And one line does spur poignant feelings about life in the pre-9/11 United States. But overall, Turbo Cola starts with a fizzy premise but goes flat before the ball drops.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how this turn-of-the-millennium comedy compares to movies they've seen from the '90s and early 2000s. What are elements in those films that don't hold up to today's standards when it comes to representation and the way women are depicted and discussed? How does media influence our own behavior?
Why are Turbo Cola's three main characters -- Austin, Swearsky, and MJ -- eager to move away from their small town? How does life after high school offer many teens the opportunity to start fresh?
How does the movie depict drug use? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?
How does the "jerk" become the hero here? Do you find this character evolution credible? Why, or why not?
What do you think happens to the characters the next day? What do you think their lives are like in a year?
- In theaters: June 14, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: June 14, 2022
- Cast: Jared Spears, Nicholas Stoesser, Jordyn Denning
- Director: Luke Covert
- Studio: Giant Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, High School
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 4, 2022
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