Review of the Film “Turbo” (2013)

Turbo by DreamWorks Animation, directed by David Soren, released on DVD November 12, 2013.

Film, 3D animation.

Magic realism.

Rating: PG.

Grades 2 to 5.

Reviewed by Kerry Bennet for Parent Previews.


Turbo is a snail who dreams of racing fast and competing again Guy Gagne, a famous human racer, on the Indy 500 track. Though Turbo’s normally as slow as a snail, one day he goes through a car’s nitrous oxide system, leaving Turbo with super speed and other car traits. Turbo catches the attention of Tito, a taco seller, and together they set out to have Turbo compete in the Indy 500. This film is definitely age appropriate, with a fair dose of humor that will appeal to children and only a little violence, which is more shocking than upsetting. Beyond the expected amount of race-related violence, Turbo lacks potentially-objectionable material and is a family-friendly, funny film. Reviewer Bennet notes that the film’s violence may make it best for families with older children: “While the characters in this story experience moments of peril and some brief violence (including a startling incident when a bird smashes into a bus window), the film never drives out of bounds for families with older children.” However, parental guidance will be the best judge for whether or not children are ready for this film.

Turbo definitely has a ridiculous plot, but the characters and humor more than make up for it, as the film rarely takes itself seriously for more than a few minutes at a time. When Turbo does take itself seriously, though, its main theme is of following your dream, and the film does an excellent job of showing that hard work and talent are both needed to make dreams into reality. Turbo puts a lot of work into following his dream, as does Tito, and they face many times when they could give up, put instead they keep going. The characters fit into common archetypes (Turbo as the race-crazed male, his worrywart brother, etc.), but each actor brings enough zest to these roles to make them feel distinct from characters in other films, and the film makes a point of representing a wide range of characters in terms of race, age, and gender roles. The humans who own the snails bring the most diversity to this film, as their only common trait is owning businesses in the same area, and each of these characters is distinct from the others. The snails have more difficulty shaking off stereotypes, between the single, sassy female snail and the silly, fat snail, but the characters are played with enough nuance to make them funny instead of boring. Expectedly, Turbo has a large amount of commercial interest, with a toy line available and a TV series sequel in the works, but the film is still enjoyable and will delight viewers who liked Cars. This is more of a boys’ movie than a gender-neutral one, with the focus on racing, but it should still entertain most viewers.

Reviewed by Crystal Bandel


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