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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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Francis Borgia: Today's saint grew up in an important family in 16th-century Spain, serving in the imperial court and quickly advancing in his career. But a series of events—including the death of his beloved wife—made Francis Borgia rethink his priorities. He gave up public life, gave away his possessions and joined the new and little-known Society of Jesus. 
<p>Religious life proved to be the right choice. He felt drawn to spend time in seclusion and prayer, but his administrative talents also made him a natural for other tasks. He helped in the establishment of what is now the Gregorian University in Rome. Not long after his ordination he served as political and spiritual adviser to the emperor. In Spain, he founded a dozen colleges. </p><p>At 55, Francis was elected head of the Jesuits. He focused on the growth of the Society of Jesus, the spiritual preparation of its new members and spreading the faith in many parts of Europe. He was responsible for the founding of Jesuit missions in Florida, Mexico and Peru. </p><p>Francis Borgia is often regarded as the second founder of the Jesuits. He died in 1572 and was canonized 100 years later.</p> American Catholic Blog Dare to love and to be a real friend. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as to those whom God has given you to love. —Henri J.M. Nouwen

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