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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Turbo

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Turbo, center, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, is shown in a scene from the animated movie "Turbo."
Aesop's fable of the tortoise and the hare gets a Formula One makeover in "Turbo" (DreamWorks), a rollicking 3-D animated comedy about a garden snail whose wish for super-speed is unexpectedly granted.

Directed and co-written by newcomer David Soren, "Turbo" is a warmhearted family adventure that champions the underdog in the spirit of Rocky Balboa.

In the tomato patch of a suburban Los Angeles home lives a colony of snails, whose daily regimen is to harvest the ripest of fruit for consumption, while avoiding predators like birds, lawnmowers and obnoxious kids. It's a mundane existence from which Theo (voice of Ryan Reynolds) longs to escape.

Theo's passion is speed, and he commandeers the homeowner's VCR at night to watch Grand Prix racing, especially the exploits of champion driver Guy Gagne (voice of Bill Hader).

He takes to heart Guy's mantra, "No dream's too big and no dreamer's too small," much to the chagrin of Theo's more practical-minded brother snail, Chet (voice of Paul Giamatti).

Watching the cars zooming along the freeway one evening, Theo is sucked into the engine of a souped-up drag racer. Doused with chemicals, he undergoes a physical transformation a la Spider-Man. Suddenly, he's capable of speeds exceeding 200 mph -- and adopts a new moniker, Turbo.

Turbo's superpowers are put to good use when he chases a crow that has snatched Chet. He saves his brother, but they find themselves in a down-and-out strip mall anchored by the Dos Bros Tacos shack, run by brothers Angelo (voice of Luis Guzman) and Tito (voice of Michael Pena).

Sensible Angelo manages the failing business, while lazy Tito schemes for new customers. When the snails drop into his lap, he's delighted, as he "races" snails in his spare time. But Turbo is no ordinary snail now, and his super-speed shocks Tito ("Santa Maria!" he exclaims, in the film's sole reference to Christianity) and inspires him to dream big.

Against Angelo's wishes, Tito rallies his fellow shopowners to join him on a cross-country odyssey to enter Turbo in the Indianapolis 500, where he will be pitted against his idol, Guy.

Joining Turbo as his pit crew are a rout of eccentric but similar-minded snails with names like Whiplash (voice of Samuel L. Jackson), Burn (voice of Maya Rudolph), and Skid Mark (voice of Ben Schwartz).

What ensues is a tale of two brothers, human and escargot, and how chasing a seemingly impossible dream strengthens the bonds of love and trust.

Chet, like Angelo, is a realist, concerned for his brother's safety and mental health.

"What will happen if you wake up tomorrow and your powers are gone?" he asks.

"Then I better make the most of today," Turbo replies.

Indeed he does, and this Little Mollusk That Could roars around the track to a thumping soundtrack which includes -- naturally -- Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" theme from "Rocky III."

Cartoonish action sequences involving menacing birds and car crashes may frighten the smallest youngsters, but "Turbo" is silly and innocent fun for all ages.

The film contains a few perilous situations. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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