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Get ready for the Indy 500 with "Turbo," the small snail with big dreams


A crop of the movie poster for "Turbo" featuring Turbo in his racing shell and a group of snails.
"Turbo" is a movie about dreaming big no matter how small you are. Credit: 20th Century FOX

I had a hard time sleeping the other night and decided to open up Netflix. I started scrolling through the endless options, stumbled upon "Turbo" and cracked a smile in the glow of my computer screen.


"Turbo" was released in 2013 and is equal parts endearing, equal parts delusional, but it's all a lot of fun. So I had to rewatch it. The story is built around a snail named Theo, who is obsessed with IndyCar racing. He spends late nights watching replays of his favorite driver, Guy Gagné, a suave French Canadian who is the reigning champ. The advice he offers via VHS is, "No dream is too big and no dreamer too small."


Theo trudges through life working the garden in sunny Southern California with his fellow snails and brother Chet. The snails live to survive, dodging the swooping crows, the menacing lawn mower and the cool kid on a tricycle who is reminiscent of Sid from "Toy Story." Unlike his brother, Theo is never quite satisfied.


A freak accident gets Theo caught in a streetrace. He is sucked into the nitrous oxide tank inside one of the competitor's engines. The chemicals react in his bloodstream and Theo is now Turbo!


He joins forces with a ragtag group of snails who "race" at a local taco shop. The witty characters add plenty of laughs, including Snoop Dogg's Smoove Move and Maya Rudolph's Burn. They're led by a gritty snail named Whiplash, who is played by Samuel L. Jackson.


Tito, one of the brothers who owns the taco shop, sees that Turbo is... different and decides to do the impossible. With help from the other shops in the strip mall where the taco shop is located, Tito "trains" Turbo for the Indianapolis 500.


"With my brains and your speed, we should be destined for greatness," Tito tells Turbo.


What ensues is a story of camaraderie, dedication and beating the odds. There's a lesson to never meet your idols, but also an encouragement to embrace who you really are.



There are several motorsport ties to the movie. Dario Franchitti and Mario Andretti served as creative consultants and have small roles. Michelle Rodriguez of "Fast and Furious" fame, plays the role of Paz, who owns the autobody shop where the snails get fitted for their races.


"It's absolutely important that they've decided to base the movie around the Indianapolis 500," Franchitti told SB Nation during the movie's promotional run. "There are so many young people that haven't been exposed to IndyCar racing yet, and this puts us out there and lets us show them what we're about in a really charming and fun way."


"It's going to be such a fun little movie and I applaud the producers for putting in the extra effort to make this really authentic," Andretti added.


The movie is a little bizarre and a little cliché, but, with the vibrant colors, snappy one-liners and enthusiastic characters, you can't help but smile. Oh, and the soundtrack slaps too.


So if you need something feel good before — or after — the Indy 500 this weekend, give "Turbo" a try.

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