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Western Animation / Turbo

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Slo mo no mo.

"I wish I was fast."

Turbo is a 2013 DreamWorks Animation CG family film that revolves around a garden snail, Turbo (Ryan Reynolds), who dreams about becoming fast so that he can race like his Indianapolis 500 idol, Guy Gagne (Bill Hader). His dreams make him a little distant from his slow-paced snail society, which includes his careful brother Chet (Paul Giamatti), who is constantly putting up with the embarrassment Turbo brings into his life. As luck would have it, a freak accident causes Turbo to get just what he's asking for when nitrous oxide becomes infused in his DNA. This causes him to become a snail racing wonder, and the possibility of competing in the Indianapolis 500 is just within his grasp.

The film was directed by David Soren, who was a story artist for several other DreamWorks movies, as well as the head of story for Shark Tale. Watch the first trailer here and the second trailer here.

Before the film even aired, a Flash-animated television series entitled Turbo F.A.S.T. (Fast Action Stunt Team) was announced to begin airing on Netflix in December 2013. The first season's episodes were released in blocks of about five episodes at a time every three months from December 24, 2013 to December 1, 2014; season two starting July 31, 2015; and season three started on February 5, 2016. The series is animated by Titmouse, who previously did another Flash-animated series involving high-speed action, Motorcity. It ended up being the first in a long string of Dreamworks spin-offs on the Netflix platform.

Turbo provides examples of:

  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: After mastering his Super-Speed, Turbo begins showing this trope, mainly by blowing off the Snail Crew when they propose him to join. They're quick to give him a lesson and deflate his ego.
  • Actor Allusion: Michelle Rodriguez plays a Wrench Wench, as she did in another movie about car racing.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: The snails range in all sorts of different colors.
  • Animal Facial Hair: Chet and Theo’s boss Carl is a snail with a big bushy mustache.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: A deep crack in a snail's shell like the one Turbo suffers cannot heal on its own, and requires a lot more than a bandage to repair: the exposed cavity must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, and the breach, carefully sealed with gauze, plaster of Paris, and nail varnish. Bringing Turbo to a race before confirming his shell was restored was also extremely dangerous, as snails' exposed bodies are extremely vulnerable to desiccation, infection, or exposure to air pollutants.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The shot of Turbo's heart being imbued with nitrous oxide shows it attached to a branching network of blood vessels. Snails have an open circulatory system. Snails are also hermaphrodites,note  so the running joke of Chet's gender is a moot point.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Nitrous oxide isn't anything especially fast. It just allows engines to burn more fuel. And if anything it slows animals down (it's laughing gas).
  • Artistic License – Physics: As mentioned elsewhere on this wiki, Super-Speed has one of the longest Required Secondary Power lists there is, and this is only exacerbated by Turbo being a snail.
  • Artistic License – Sports: Racing practically runs on Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught; because of this, what defines a car is pretty rigorously defined, negating the Animal Athlete Loophole. Also, a crash like what happened on the last lap would have almost certainly drawn a red flag and stopped the race - having Turbo and Gagne "racing" to the finish line - one dragging his broken car, the other dragging his broken shell - was pure Rule of Funny.
  • Badass Crew: The Snail Crew. Period. For example, they are able to hijack a flock of crows - who've spent the whole movie preying on snails - to use as their personal Power-Up Mounts.
    • In the final race, each one of them gets a shell upgrade: their own customized, stylish, Transformers-style miniature vehicle to help them compete in their snail races.
  • Big Bad: Guy Gagne
  • Big Brother Instinct: Chet is this to Theo A.K.A. Turbo: It's justified since Turbo is quite reckless.
  • Big Little Brother: Tito hovers over his older brother, Angelo.
  • Birds of a Feather: Non-romantic example: Turbo and Tito.
  • Bizarre Alien Locomotion: The "tuck and roll" maneuver which carries Turbo across the finish line.
  • Black Comedy: A dramatization on tv shows a crude animation of Turbo competing in the Indianapolis 500 and getting crushed by a race car’s tire.
  • Broken Pedestal: Guy Gagne, Turbo's idol, is actually a self centered jerkass who only supported Turbo in order to promote himself.
  • Brought Down to Normal: A surprising subversion. Even though Turbo's shell did crack and made him lose his Super-Speed, the shell only needed to heal on its own for his Super-Speed to return.
  • Celebrity Paradox: When Turbo struggles with his newfound DNA, "Drop It Like It's Hot" plays through him as if he's a radio. Snoop Dogg, the song's artist, plays Smoove Move in this film.
  • Chekhov's Skill: As the Snail Crew teaches Turbo, having powers means nothing without honing natural ability and practice. When the crew challenge Turbo to a race, he initially out paces them till he reaches a part of the track his speed can't cross. The crew, however, having raced much longer than him, manage to cross with little problem using their ingenuity and the mucus on their bodies. This comes back into play later in the climax of the film when they encourage him to keep going by just using his natural talents rather than his speed power.
  • Chemistry Can Do Anything: Nitrite oxide is able to infuse with Theo's DNA and give him car-like powers by being absorbed into his circulatory system.
  • Close on Title: The movie’s title does not appear until the very end.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The Snail Crew, particularly White Shadow.
  • Color Character: White Shadow is a pale colored snail who claims to be fast like a shadow.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Turbo landing right on the hood of a car about to race.
    • The birds carrying Turbo to the hood of a truck belonging to a guy who races snails.
    • The Indy 500 truck showing up right when Turbo is being asked what they should do next.
  • Cool Car: The car in which Turbo gets his powers from is a heavily modified Chevy Camaro.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The snails messing around objects pertaining to who worked on what ( Example: A laptop for animators. An ipod for Music Composers, etc) as well as objects seen in the movie. Followed by a long sequence of credits on the taco truck's menu board.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Chet. Especially towards Theo AKA Turbo.
  • Determinator: Turbo and Tito definitely qualify, especially the former.
  • DreamWorks Face: Well, duh. Even without eyebrows, Turbo makes this face on the movies’ promotional poster.
  • Down L.A. Drain: Where the race that Turbo gets caught in takes place.
  • The Faceless: The driver of the Camero never has his face shown directly, only being shown from behind.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Brothers, plural, in this case. One scene even has Chet and Angelo mirror each other as they chastise Turbo and Tito respectively. Hilariously, Chet even goes "what he said" to one of Angelo's comments.
  • Fat and Skinny: Seems this way with Turbo and Chet.
  • Fiery Redhead: Burns. Technically she has red skin, but it counts.
  • Fragile Speedster: Being a snail, Turbo already can't take too much damage as it is. Racing down a speedway alongside cars that could cripple or kill a non-protected human...yeah.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: Turbo, now with his powers back, starts happily racing alongside the Snail crew in a snail race track.
  • French Jerk: Guy Gagne, although he's French-Canadian.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: The rest of the crew seems to find White Shadow more annoying than anything else.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • F.A.S.T. stands for Fast Action Stunt Team.
    • At one point Chet mentions something called Crow Awareness Week—in other words, C.A.W.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Had Guy not felt the need to make himself look like a supporting and fellow racing competitor and lead a rally to get Turbo to compete in the Indy 500, he wouldn't have lost in the race; to make it worse on his part, Turbo won without his Super-Speed.
    • On top of that, his attempts to stomp on Turbo and him jumping out to grab him only HELPED Turbo cross the finish line.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Turbo wants to be more than just your average garden snail. He gets his wish.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: Twice by Whiplash.
    I'm gonna pretend I didn't hear what I clearly just heard!
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Paz has a very curvy body.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Several, with Luis Guzman as Angelo being the most notable.
  • Jerk Jock: Guy Gagne seems to be a subversion at first but quickly shows he's this before the final race.
  • Love Interest: Played With. Burn has Love at First Sight... for Chet.
  • Meaningful Name: Guy Gagné. 'Guy' comes from 'Guido', which is derived from an old word for 'leader', and 'gagné' is French for 'won', so he's the leader who won. Some argue that Guido comes from the verb 'guidare', meaning to drive, which would make him the Driver Who Won. Unfortunately for him it doesn't come true in the end.
  • Memetic Mutation: In-universe, "Whoa! That snail is fast!" complete with remix videos.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Turbo does this from inside a crow that swallowed him just after he saved his brother Chet. Nope, it's NEVER a good idea to eat something with super powers.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Kim-Ly is the shortest human in the entire film.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Kim-Ly as Guy found out the hard way.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: The crows are photorealistic, but the snails are cartoony, and humans somewhere in between. Justfied; this was done to set the crows apart as feral predators and later Power-Up Mounts to the Snail Crew.
    • The beetles that carry Theo while he is unconscious look just like real beetles, which clashes with Theo’s cartoony design.
  • Official Couple: Chet and Burn by the film's end.
  • One-Word Title: Also a Protagonist Title.
  • Only Sane Man: Chet is the most vocal on Turbo being considered to race in the Indianapolis 500.
    Chet: Has the world lost its mind?!
  • Power Glows: After gaining his super speed ability, Turbo leaves behind a phosphorescent blue trail in his wake.
  • Product Placement: Features several companies due to race cars having branding. Verizon also appears on a mobile phone.
  • Production Throwback: Phil and Mason from Madagascar can be seen in a newspaper article when Angelo tells Tito that his monkey petting zoo idea was crazy. They are given tails though to make them look like monkeys instead of chimps.
  • Protagonist Title: Turbo is indeed the star of the movie. Technically, his real name is Theo, but Turbo does sound cooler.
  • Recycled with a Gimmick: Ratatouille WITH SNAILS!! The plot of Turbo and Ratatouille involve a single main character who desires to break out in a field in which it is discouraged due to their species and not their skills. Both Turbo and Rémy are The Speechless. Both characters have a brother who attempts to discourage them but eventually, grudgingly supports them. Both glimpse this world through the TV. Both are forced from their world due to circumstances involving natural disaster. Rémy is cast away by a flood and Turbo rescues his brother from a hungry bird. Both situations force them far from their original location. Both works include a bittersweet success at the end. The restaurant in ratatouille closes down and Turbo loses his Super-Speed. Rémy ends up working at a small bistro, and Turbo regains his superpowers.
  • Recycled Premise:
    • A non-human with dreams normally only achievable by humans? Gaining an indirect mentor (through television) in a famous practitioner of that dream? The protagonist having a unique trait that makes that dream possible, as well as a human Heterosexual Life-Partner? This, in a lot of ways, is the DreamWorks Animation equivalent to Ratatouille if it was based around racing, starred a snail, and with the protagonist meeting the Gusteau analog (with the Gusteau analog being a villain).
    • The above includes a heaping dose of Pixar's Cars. A racer (snail) finds himself in a town (shopping mall) that can't drum up enough business to make ends meet? In the end his winning a race in an unorthodox way leads to putting the town (shopping mall) on the map again? Check.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Guy Gagne
  • Shout-Out: The tagline "He's fast. They're furious".
  • Sore Loser: Guy Gagne does not take kindly to being shown up by anyone, let alone by a snail.
  • The Speedster: The titular Turbo is a Speedy Snail who gains the ability to move as quickly as a race car. This puts him at odds with his older brother Chet, who considers him a freak of nature.
  • Speedy Snail: The Trope Codifier. The very premise is of a bog standard snail gaining Super-Speed and competing in a motor vehicle race.
  • Stealth Pun: Look at that S(nail)-car GO!
  • Super Hero Origin: One thing that does distinguish this from Ratatouille is that it's basically a superhero origin story - with a snail as the superhero.
  • Super-Speed: Turbo gets this, becoming fast enough to compete with a race car.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: A crow eats Turbo post-transformation, and the result isn't pretty (see above). Yup, still not a good idea to eat something with super powers.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The fact that Guy was a great A Jerkass Glory Hound was pretty much on every commercial whereas in the film he is treated as a kind-hearted team player until the Wham Line around two-thirds into the movie.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Inverted; the wild Burn hits on the very uptight Chet throughout the film. Zig-Zagged at the end, as Chet starts to reciprocate by then.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: In-Universe Humans can't tell that Chet is a boy, much to his chagrin. Hilariously, snails in real life are hermaphrodites.
  • Wham Line: While relatively minor, the moment the line dropped was the moment that Guy Gangé was going to be the central antagonist, and if it doesn't help, then the music by the end of his speech turning sinister and him acting like a massive jerk afterwards will.
    Well, the sad truth is, uh, underdogs seldom win. And the dreamers... let's just say, eventually they have to wake up.
  • Zany Scheme: Tito is guilty of concocting some zany gimmicks in order to promote his and his brother's restaurant.