Turbo is a film that doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be. Is it the type of story where the character isn’t satisfied with their existence and hopes for something more from life (such as A Bug’s Life)? Is it a racing movie where the lead character needs to grow up a little (such as Cars)? Is it a super hero origin movie (such as Spider-Man)? Unfortunately this movie is all three, and it doesn’t do a good job with any of them.
Theo / Turbo is a garden snail who happens to live next to the current Indy 500 champion. As such he obsesses and dreams of being a professional racer. After nearly killing himself a few times, trying to prove he is faster than he is, he sets out on a rainy night to get away from his sad slow existence. Eventually he accidently finds himself involved in an illegal drag race. When the driver hits his nitrous oxide Theo / Turbo undergoes a Spider-Man type transformation that turns him into some kind car / snail hybrid. Rather than just making him fast, it also gives him headlights, taillights, a radio, and a backup beeper. From there a series of even more improbable events leads him to have an opportunity to fulfill this dreams.
It is somewhat distracting to me that all of the snails can understand English being spoken by humans. From our perspective the snails also speak English, but of course none of the humans can hear or understand them. It is also distracting that once the nature of this special snail is revealed to the public (and the world at large) that the scientific community doesn’t appear to be at all interested in it.
Overall this movie was not very good. I remember only thinking a couple of things were funny or clever. I saw this movie at a drive-in theater with a number of children. In general those kids were bored and were more interested in snacks than laughing at the movie. I don’t remember really hearing any laughter at all through the film. So even as a movie just for kids I don’t think it delivers well. It reminds me of Bee Movie, which also felt flat.
So in the end this is a movie that is trying to be A Bug’s Life without the diverse bug characters, Cars without the growing up, Spider-Man without the character development, and Bee Movie will all its so called comedy. Maybe there is a demographic who is looking for that kind of movie, but it isn’t adults or children.