Story

Turbo tells the inspirational story of Theo (voice of Ryan Reynolds), a garden snail living in California who dreams of becoming the greatest racer in the world. He’s obsessed with speed and wants to race in the Indianapolis 500, a race only for cars with human drivers. This obsession has made him an outcast in his community of snails, who much prefer safety and caution to the excitement that Theo craves.

After being bullied and demoralised once too often, Theo wanders onto a nearby freeway, lamenting his lack of speed and admiring the cars that fly past him. He’s involved in an unexpected collision and sucked into the supercharger of a drag racing car, where his DNA is fused with nitrous oxide. This gives him special powers, including the ability to go extremely fast, light up his eyes like headlights and turn his voice into a music stereo at will.

Theo and his unadventurous brother Chet (Paul Giamatti) meet an inspired human named Tito (Michael Pena). Tito has already befriended several snails that he races as a hobby, but he is astounded by Theo’s speed and agility. Theo, Chet and Tito work together, and Theo gets into the Indy 500 race as a competitor. Naming himself Turbo, Theo relies on his determination, strength of will and friends’ support to make it through the physically and mentally challenging race.

Themes

Bullying; risk versus safety; personal growth

Violence

Turbo has some limited violence. For example:

  • At some of the team meetings, crows occasionally swoop down and grab one of the snails. Usually, Chet says things like, ‘Well that’s a shame’ or ‘There goes Jerry’. He means that the crows are taking the snails to eat them.
  • An old lady repeatedly hits the previous Indy 500 Champion. She also steps on his face. This is because she has found out that he is a malicious person who has tried to hurt Theo to win the race.
  • A crow swallows Theo and is thrown around violently after Theo engages his turbo powers. The crow is then squashed by a car.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Turbo has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example, cars are a danger to the snails, as are humans mowing lawns. 

From 5-8

Younger children in this age group might also be scared by some of the scenes described above. 

From 8-13

Nothing of concern 

Over 13

Nothing of concern 

Sexual references

Turbo has some sexual references. For example:

  • Theo’s brother Chet talks suggestively about something we assume is another snail but turns out to be a tomato – one of the snails’ favourite foods. Chet says, ‘Look at her, nice curves. You are one giant juicy temptress’.
  • Several of the snails flirt with each other. One male snail wraps his arm around a female snail while the female refers to him endearingly as ‘Boo’. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Turbo shows some use of substances. For example:

  • A woman and Tito drink what looks like beer.
  • Various beer bottles roll along the ground outside the taco store that Tito owns. 

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern 

Product placement

There is no product placement of concern in Turbo, but merchandise associated with the movie is being marketed to children. 

Coarse language

Turbo has some limited coarse language and name-calling. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Turbo is a heart-warming animated movie about a snail who achieves his dream.

Initially an outcast and recluse, Theo finds a group of friends who help him to achieve what everyone else thinks is impossible – winning the Indy 500 car race. The relationship between Theo and Chet is an important part of the plot and the movie shows how the two brothers come together to help Theo achieve his dream. In return, Theo shows Chet a more adventurous and exciting way to live. The overwhelming message is that ‘No dream is too big, and no dreamer is too small’.

The whole family will probably enjoy this movie, although children under six years might need help with some of the scenes where snails are in danger.

This movie could give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as:

  • not giving up, even when you face obstacles
  • bullying and how the other snails treat Theo because he is different
  • learning to rely on the support and friendship of others, and how this can help when you can’t do things on your own.