Move over Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, and Lance Armstong. Another athlete has used performance enhancing drugs to win a world-class championship. That is what the headlines would have read if that athlete weren’t the plucky snail from Dreamwork’s latest animated feature, Turbo.
Obviously (I hope), that is not the intent of the film studio, but it is curious that a movie targeted to draw young boys to the multiplex would choose nitrous oxide, a chemical readily available online and even as aerosol propellants in common household products, to power up the title character to superhero proportions. The parallel to professional sports is a bit unsettling.
More likely, the studio saw Turbo’s “transformation” as a Frankenstein moment when lightning strikes and breathes new life into the snail. Surely, after the freak accident that “soups up” Turbo, he is all but converted into a car with the benefits of internal headlights, an alarm system, and a killer stereo system with a built-in laser show. (The kids just loved this.) The one saving grace is that Turbo’s change is a (un)fortunate accident that occurred without his intending to cheat his way into the spotlight.
That questionable story development aside, the inherent tale shows heart. Theo, aka Turbo, has a dream. Born in a body built to move slow, he wants to move fast. Watching car races all his life, he actually works towards improving his own speed and fitness. He races against a rotten tomato rolling down a hill and even a lawn mower threatening to demolish “big red”. When he is unexpectedly given super speed, he does not take it for granted. It is what happens when his powers evade him during the Indy 500 (yes, the snail actually races against real cars!) that his true character is revealed, and he does not disappoint. Turbo is a courageous character who knows that it is not about what you have but what you make of it. That is the sign of a true hero.
With any animated fare, there is magic in the voices. Ryan Reynolds plays Turbo himself and Paul Giamatti his brother Chet. Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, Mario Andretti, Bill Heder, and Luis Guzman round out the cast. When Samuel L. Jackson takes the stage, you know just who he is and you cannot help but grin. The character fits like a glove. Among the group of human misfits and snail rabble-rousers, Turbo is a charmer even without the boost he gets from the nitrous oxide.
Turbo: 3 stethoscopes
(Dr. Tanya Feke is a family physician and guest columnist for the Record Journal and Town Times. She has been press credentialed to the LA Film Festival and continues to pursue a love of film. Her reviews are rated on a 5 stethoscope scale. Follow her blog tanyafeke.com, Facebook page Diagnosis Life or on Twitter @tanyafeke).