Turbo is a bit like The Fast and the Furious but for kids. There are hotted up cars, screaming engines, pumping soundtracks, dazzling race scenes and a significant number of men in tight pants. However there are also kids on trikes drinking juice boxes, rotten tomatoes, slime jokes and some genuinely touching brotherly relationships.
Theo is a garden snail with big dreams. Yes, not an ogre or a princess, or a fighting panda or even a fish. He's a snail. Not content to live within the rather (s)low expectations of his gastropod mates and his safety-conscious brother, Chet, Theo's real dream is to go fast.
He spends his nights watching his racing car idol Guy Gagne (he's French-Canadian and has very tight pants) whiz around the race tracks and offer seemingly genuine advice about following your dream: 'there is no dream too big and no dreamer too small.'
It's cute but it's also quite true.
Following a disaster in the garden one day, Theo runs (slowly) away from home and in a rather terrifying scene ends up being sucked through the nitrous oxide system of a hotted up dragster.
In a process reminiscent of Spiderman undergoing his change following being bitten by that spider, Theo is 'souped up' and develops headlights, sound system, alarm and most importantly – a super-charged ability to speed. So, totally believable then.
Back in the garden, Theo's new talents fall foul of the other snails and he and Chet are kicked out. In the real world, the two snails are found by the sweet-natured Tito, a taco truck driver with a predilection for racing snails and who has a problematic relationship with his own brother.
This mucher-larger-than-life-size Turbo will be auctioned for Telethon
The team of racing snails voiced by greats such as Samuel L. Jackson and Snoop Dogg quickly become his biggest supporters, and before long Tito and the entire team of snails have stolen the taco truck and headed to Indiana to register the newly minted Turbo in the iconic car race, the Indy 500.
Naturally there are obstacles for Turbo and the team to overcome before a snail will be allowed to race, but it's inevitable that the climax of the film will be a turbo-charged snail racing against the fastest cars in the world including Theo's hero in a very shiny, very fast red car.
I really wanted Guy to not turn out to be a bad guy. Not because I'm a giant softie who thinks kids movies should be all flowers and picnics, but because I hated how Theo's idol ended up being such a cretin with no real resolution, other than losing the race in breath-taking fashion with the whole world watching. Sorry, spoiler alert.
It seems quite ridiculous now as I write, but it really was very enjoyable. The animation of the race scenes, from panning overhead shots, to the low angles of cars speeding overhead were exceptional. Dreamworks certainly know how to create a masterful backdrop and are superb at creating plucky underdogs with big dreams.
Even the soundtrack, full of everything from Queen to Run DMC, Jackson Five to Eye of the Tiger, Tom Jones to Snoop Dogg, add immensely to the movie. The music helped to make some truly laugh-out-loud moments, and as with most kids films, it's the ensemble of big-name support actors in the minor roles which make the movie.
You should be warned that animals were hurt during the making of this film. Animated they may be, but watching a bird get smashed by a bus was a little unexpected in a kids flick. Wait for the gasps in that particular scene, mostly by parents who glance at their little kids to see how they took it.
We took our three daughters and they all seemed to enjoyed it. It may have been a tad long for the three year old, and the toddler was more interested in the popcorn, but the older one was laughing out loud and chatting wildly about how excited she was.
Not once was anything said about it being a 'boy' movie, although only three of the characters are female (a tough mechanic who looks like she belongs in Fast and Furious, an old Vietnamese manicurist who is actually voiced by a man and a lady-snail who keeps trying to ensnare Chet). Interestingly they say only about 40 words between them.
In summary, ignore the gender imbalance and the ethnic stereotypes, pop your ear plugs in and be prepared for a roaringly good time.