A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Theme of creating your own path and doing what's within your ability to change your situation. But characters take a criminal approach to achieving that goal, which undermines the message.
Positive Role Models
Mary Jane worked hard to get a scholarship to a prestigious college and demonstrates self-respect and good choices. She has a healthy relationship with sexual attitudes while also defending herself against unwanted advances and rumors. Other characters make iffy choices but eventually show that there's more to them than it seems, ultimately demonstrating care and common sense.
Although main character's current love interest is smart and stands up for herself -- and his ex is a smart woman of color -- all of the female characters are defined by their relationship to him (girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, mother). All are spoken about/depicted in a sexual way.
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Violence & Scariness
Shooting with blood (not excessively gory, no close-ups). A teen carries a gun around like an accessory to demonstrate that he's cool and tough. Aftermath of teen girl using a weapon to protect herself from unwanted touching during a party is shown; the story is shared and the perpetrator is shown acting out of it, with a bloody wound.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens have sex (off-screen in a bathroom, after belt unbuckling and skirt lifting are shown) and talk frequently about having sex and engaging in sexual acts. One teen constantly speaks about his friend's mother in a sexual way. Mentions about a rumored inappropriate relationship with a teacher.
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Strong language throughout, including "ass," "damn," "d--k," "hell," "goddammit," "piss," "s--t," and multiple uses of "f--k." Also insults such as "d--kbag," "f--kwad," "idiot," "loser," "slut," and "whore."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drug use on camera portrayed as fun/cool, including smoking pot and snorting cocaine. Teens smoke cigarettes. One character is a drug dealer who fantasizes about living next door to a high school so he can sell drugs to students. References to drinking at a party.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.