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Movie Review: “Turbo”

George Pimentel/Getty Images for 20th Century Fox Films(NEW YORK) -- Is it just me or does every modern-day animated film seem like a stoner fantasy?

“Dude!  Look at those snails!  Hey, imagine if that snail over there, like, dreamed of being fast!”

“Yeah, dude! Like, he wanted to race in the Indy 500!”

“Hey!  Let’s turn that into a movie!”

While I can’t prove that’s how it happened, that fake stoner fantasy is pretty much the premise of Turbo, the story of a little snail that could.  Race in the Indy 500, that is.

Turbo, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, is a garden snail whose dreams take him beyond the garden.  Every night he sneaks into the main house to watch the racing channel, where can catch a glimpse of his hero, Guy Gagne, voiced by SNL alum Bill Hader. In other words, this snail has a need for speed.

Much to the annoyance of his brother, Chet (Paul Giamatti), Turbo isn’t very focused on his garden responsibilities, which essentially amount to harvesting tomatoes for the snail collective.  These snails are, of course, adorable.  I mean, if snails were actually as appealing as they are in this movie, we’d likely occupy our time looking at YouTube videos of snails playing the piano or riding skateboards.

But no matter how hard he tries to be fast, Turbo is, well, slow as a snail.  That is, until a freak accident gets him sucked into the turbines of a souped-up hotrod during a drag race, which genetically alters him, endowing him with the characteristics of the hotrod: from car alarm and radio, to speeds of well over 200 miles per hour.

Soon thereafter, Turbo and Chet are captured by a jovial young Mexican man named Tito (Michael Pena), who runs his brother’s taco truck.  Tito enters Turbo and Chet into snail races against other shop owners in a local shopping center, where his brother also has a struggling taco stand.  The other snails are all characters, voiced by the likes of Snoop Dogg, Samuel L. Jackson and Maya Rudolph. 

This, of course, is when they discover Turbo’s no ordinary snail, which gets Tito thinking: How can he parlay Turbo’s talents into money to save his brother’s taco stand?  Well, how about entering him into the Indy 500?

Suffice it to say, the rest of the movie is incredibly silly, but also inexplicably endearing and emotionally engaging.  Turbo isn't going to make you cry like Up, Toy Story 3 or WALL-E, but it has a powerful and positive message for little kids and adults alike, and is a beautifully rendered film, making it a fine summer family treat.

Three-and-a-half out of five stars.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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