Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live as a snail? To take hours to simply get across the yard is a reality that Theo lives with on a daily basis. While none of the other snails in town seem to have a problem with blazing a single, slow but steady, trail across the yard, Theo refuses to settle for anything other than blazing fast speed.
Everyone deserves to be happy with their life and Theo expects nothing more, and nothing less. The only problem is that for Theo, the happiness that being able to zip from one spot to another would bring, is one that can never be…or is it? That is a question that remains on his mind through each and every passing day.
The fact that many brothers are complete opposites isn’t a surprise, especially since Chet (Theo’s brother) is exactly that. For Chet, happiness is simple because nothing would make him happier than to see his brother finally come to terms with who he really is…a slow, never-get-anywhere-fast snail. Unfortunately, Chet’s happiness is ultimately dependent on Theo’s disappointment so as it stands, neither brother will ever find true happiness.
It is absolutely amazing how even the impossible can become possible when it is least expected, and for Theo that’s exactly what happens. It happened on an ordinary day of the week (not that there were ever extraordinary days up until this day) while Theo was sluggin’ his way over to the highway to watch traffic zip on by. Somehow he manages to get a little too close to traffic, and finds himself rolling over the hood of a car (make that a very fast car) and right into the engine.
If that weren’t bad enough (or so it seemed bad at that particular moment), Theo ends up completely submerged in a luminescent liquid, only to be blown immediately out of the tailpipe. Theo chalks it up to more bad luck but doesn’t realize that his luck is about to do back-to-back, super-fast doughnuts before the day is over. You see, while submerged in the luminescent fluid (which just so happened to be nitrous oxide), Theo’s genetic code was completely altered. The fluid that he was submerged in was now running through his veins which would have Theo running, no flying, before the day was over.
So in the blink of a snail’s eye, Theo had gone from your ordinary slimy snail to your extraordinary, scarifyingly fast, blue-slimy snail. His dreams had become a reality and Theo was finally happy. However, Chet seemed to be unhappier than before Theo turned into Super Theo. Before the accident, all Chet wanted was to see Theo accept who he was…slow. Now that things have completely changed, all Chet wants is to see Theo slow the heck down and get back to normal.
The only problem is that for Theo, everything is finally normal, and the only thing that he is in a hurry to do is zip around town as quickly as possible. Well, that and to prove to his brother that even a snail’s dreams can come true. But in order to accomplish that task in full, Theo will have to make it all the way to the Indy 500 so that he can change history forever.
There are several positive elements throughout the film, but the most obvious (or maybe not so obvious) would have to be the genuine love that Chet has for his little brother. This can easily be mistaken for a brother simply being a pain in the behind, especially in the beginning of the movie. In fact, the true concern that Chet has for Theo might not be noticed until closer to the end of the film.
There is another side to that positive element in that Theo genuinely cares for his big brother as well. In fact, he loves his brother so much that he would literally risk his life if it became necessary. And yes, it does become necessary when Chet gets grabbed by a very hungry crow that happens to be passing by one day. Theo takes speedy pursuit, risking it all just to save his brother.
That leads us to additional evidence of the family values shared between the brothers. As a consequence of the snatch-and-grab by the crazy crow, and the tremendously fast response by little brother, Chet and Theo end up stranded in a scary town quite a distance away from home. Once again, Chet’s genuine concern for little brother might be misunderstood, and taken, for him simply being overly sensitive about everything. The thing is, he wants nothing more than to protect little brother from anything that could be taken as a threat against him. Something about this new town seems to give Chet that uneasy feeling, and his “big brother instincts” kick in quicker than Theo can move.
While in the strange town, Theo gets to meet his human hero, Tito (a race car driver), and the two become friends. They come to realize that they have quite a few things in common and without realizing it, they help each other out tremendously. Their theory is “that is what friends are for”. Tito runs a taco stand with his brother, and they need a new idea for promoting the stand. Theo (and a few of the other snails) team up with Tito to help make that dream a reality. Teamwork is a strong theme throughout the film as well.
Another positive element is that of always striving for more, and never settling for anything less than your dreams becoming reality. They all seem to be really big on the idea that you should never give up, and should keep on trying until you succeed. Well, Theo is very big on that theory. In fact, he has a habit of hitting hypothetical brick walls which is typically followed up with him putting out 110% rather than giving up.
One of the final connecting points to this ongoing positive theme is actually initiated by Chet. In a nutshell, it runs along the lines of making the most of each day that we are given to live. Chet asks Theo, point blank, one day “What if you wake up tomorrow and your powers are gone?” It doesn’t take Theo but a second to respond with, “Then I’d better make the most of today.”
Many of the snails work in a tomato factory, and a few of them comment on one tomato in particular. They mention that, on a scale of 1-10, it is an absolute 10 (compared to other tomatoes, of course). They also blurt out, “Look at her” and “Nice curves!” Chet attracts a female snail, named Burn, who happens to enjoy racing just like little brother. Burn mentions her booty to Chet in casual conversation, and tells him that they should be a couple.
The movie starts out with a very unfortunate accident between Theo and the engine of a very fast car. His trip through the engine is terribly uncomfortable looking. A jealous, fellow racing snail, named Guy, makes an attempt to strip Theo of his speed by running him over with a car. While we are on the subject of speeding cars, many of the Indy cars in the race become involved in terrible crashes.
A little boy on a Big Wheel gets very close to running Theo over. Theo has a very close encounter with the wheels of a passing car. He also sees his life pass before his eyes as he nearly gets shredded by a lawnmower one day. One of the snails gets choked and kicked in an attack by a very old woman.
The aforementioned crazy crow was actually a part of a much larger group of crazy crows who would constantly snatch snails up and carry them off to be eaten. They were looked at, by the other snails, as an unfortunate part of life that everyone would have to just deal with. Several of these crows get into a fight over Chet, but Theo zips to the rescue just in time.
Drug and Alcohol Elements
Highly caffeinated beverages are quite the problem these days, but many people compare them to a simple can of cola. Theo is originally hooked on them. He is under the impression that they can have the ability to give him super-fast speed if he drinks enough of them. There is a scene involving adults at a party who are holding brown bottles labeled “lager” in their hand.
Steroids is another problem these days among athletes. It is used to enhance their physical ability. Theo’s encounter with the nitrous can be easily compared to that of a steroid fix to enhance his much desired speed.
Turbo starts out on a note containing several lessons to be learned. Family, friendship and persistence are an ongoing theme throughout the film. Both brothers prove to care for the other more than they care for their own lives. It just takes a little longer to decipher Chet’s behavior, and see it for what it really is. The bottom line is that he is the big brother that anyone who has a big brother in their life should be lucky enough to have.
A strong emphasis is placed on the power of persistence. The “follow your dreams” theme is one that seems to have no end (or clear beginning for that matter). It is an attitude that pops up in Theo right from the start, and one that ends in much the same way. If there is even one, single lesson that should easily be taken from Turbo, it is that of doing whatever it takes to attain your dreams. For Theo, that meant getting up each and every time that he fell, and putting out even more effort after doing so (in order to keep from falling again).
All-in-all, Turbo is a fantastic movie that the entire family could easily enjoy together. Once you get past the tidbits of violence, there is a real gem to be found!
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About Paul B. Murray
Paul is founder of Southern Outdoor Cinema, an outdoor cinema event production company based in Atlanta and a dad to 2 pre-teen girls. When he is is not traveling to create outdoor movie nights for communities, he is spending time playing board games, reading books and of course watching movies with his girls.