Turbo - poster“Snail Up”

With a  budget upwards of $135M, DreamWorks Animation goes all in with Turbo though it takes a pretty safe path:  A (relatively) cute animal + “dream big” message + passel of funny sidekicks (+ Ryan Reynolds, who seems to be competing against himself this on this opening weekend with his other vehicle, R.I.P.D.) = “Please let us break even.”  The movie lands squarely in the territory of Pixar’s Ratatouille, which isn’t such bad company to keep.

One almost gets the impression that they are in the middle of a super-hero origin story movie.  Young Theo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds, a fairly bland casting choice), an ordinary garden snail with too much imagination and big dreams (of being a big time racer like his hero, Guy Gagné (Bill Hader)), is barely tolerated by his community of snails.  Then due to a freak accident, he’s bitten by a radioactive spider sucked into the engine of a street racer’s car and the nitrous oxide gives him the ability to move at super speeds.  Thus he becomes Turbo.

“No dream is too big and no dreamer too small.” –Guy

Since with great power comes great responsibility, Turbo engineers his way to racing in the Indianapolis 500.  This involves him falling in with a human/fellow big dreamer, Tito (Michael Peña), and his crew of delusional yet capable snails (a crew including the voices of Samuel L. Jackson and Snoop Dogg).  Everything else plays out like one would imagine.

Turbo“The sooner you accept the dull miserable existence of your reality the happier you’ll be.” –Chet

The world needs the dreamers.  It’s easy to get caught up in the banalities of life, accepting that they are all there is to living.  Going through the daily grind, going through the motions, un-engaged and missing the point of life, we end up pursuing empty ways of doing life.  Sometimes it takes the eccentrics, the kooks, the radicals to shake us out of our complacency.

Turbo parallels this dilemma through two sets of brothers:  Theo and his by-the-book brother, Chet (Paul Giamatti); and Tito, with all of his wild schemes, and his brother, Angelo (Luis Guzman), who doesn’t need all of the hoopla to work his business, Dos Bros Tacos.  Turbo JUST misses its mark of saying that we don’t have to live within our perceived limitations and instead ends up having the  unintended message that you have to pursue being extraordinary in order to fulfill your dreams (or that it’s okay to use performance enhancers in order to reach your goal).

Turbo-Movie-RaceWe can learn what it means to live as we were created to be, fully human, as we engage with the world around us.  Life is about seeing God at work in the ordinary; believing that this is a magic infused world, filled with wonder and mystery; that our every action has meaning and eternal consequence. This world is about finding your purpose and joining in the mission or redeeming and healing it; using your gifts, to be a blessing to one another.

“Everybody’s got that one thing that makes them happy.” –Turbo

With its “no dream too big” central message, standard underdog achieving storyline, Turbo’s earnestness often gets the best of it.  This leads to long stretches of unfunny talking heads.  The often dizzying, quick cutting direction helps.  The visuals are stunning.  Its multicultural support cast add plenty of (no market left ungrabbed) flavor.  Turbo is certainly wholesome, but it leaves a little on the table.  In short, it’s mostly harmless.