Making up in energy what it lacks in originality, it sees speed freak Theo (Ryan Reynolds) – mockingly known as Turbo – defy his common-and-garden snailhood to pursue his Indy 500 dream.
Life in the tomato patch is dull. Apart from watching videos of his racing heroes in the shed, Turbo’s only excitement is seeing who’ll be next to fall victim to the kid next door (the equally evil twin of Sid from Toy Story) or the neighbourhood crows (a running gag that never fails to amuse).
But that all changes when he’s accidentally sucked into the engine of a sports car and emerges with nitrous oxide in his veins. Suddenly, he’s the fastest thing on one foot, as he proves at a snail race meet run by the small business folk at a forgotten shopping outlet.
Spying a golden opportunity to put their mall back on the map, taco vendor Tito (Michael Pena) urges his fellow shopkeepers to put all they’ve got into getting Turbo into the Indianapolis 500.
First stop, the internet, where he becomes an instant global hit.
With his brother Chet (Paul Giamatti) reluctantly joining the campaign alongside cool street snail Whiplash (Samuel L Jackson) and his jive-talking crew (including Maya Rudolph, Michelle Rodriguez and Snoop Dogg), nothing can stop Team Turbo.
Except perhaps the Indycar authorities and undefeated champ Guy Gagne (Bill Hader), Turbo’s hero.
But with everyone keen to show what great sports they are (and Guy being a Frenchman, thus free to indulge in any un-American sneakiness the story requires), only mental or mechanical failure can keep Turbo from the starting line.
Without breaking many new barriers, Turbo strikes an engaging balance between action and heart, smoothly working in its messages about teamwork and community without any discernable loss of revs.
It’s obviously designed with short attention spans in mind, but for all its flash, it’s the deadpan moments that stick. Turbo’s game of ‘chicken’ with a lawnmower is a dual-perspective hoot.
Fast and furiously good natured, it certainly puts the gas into gastropod.