The little snail that could.
A garden snail embarks on a hero’s journey to fulfil his seemingly impossible dream in Turbo.
IMAGINE a snail that hates being slow; instead, it wants to travel at lightning speed despite its obvious limitations. After a strange but not altogether unwelcomed accident, this particular snail gains that very ability – bringing him that much closer to realising his dream of participating in a professional race, the Indy 500.
That is basically the premise of Turbo, a new animated feature directed by David Soren, featuring the voices of Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Paul Giamatti.
When Soren first approached Reynolds to do the voice of the lead character, it didn’t take him much to convince the actor to sign on. Like this special snail that dreams really big, Reynolds dreamt of becoming an actor while growing up in Canada – the notion didn’t look like a possibility back then. Well we all know how that story ended, with Reynolds now being a much sought-after Hollywood actor.
In the film’s production notes provided by Twentieth Century Fox, Soren recalled meeting Reynolds for lunch to talk about the project. Leaving out the snail bit, Soren talked in great detail of a character that had a big dream. It was only at the end of the discussion that Soren revealed it was a snail. Reynolds recalled: “How could I not fall in love with that pitch? Anyone who seeks to achieve something seemingly impossible is usually wired differently from anyone else; that was an exciting dynamic to explore.”
The handsome actor then told Soren: “I can’t wait to be a snail.”
Still, it must be said, a snail as a central character is truly unconventional. How is a garden snail even endearing, right? Even at their “best”, they are a nuisance, surely. This is something that Soren attested to. “My front yard has a bit of a snail problem. I would see snails devouring a tomato plant and completely decimating it.”
At the same time, this story provides a wonderful message to the audience. Best-selling children’s author Emily Jenkins commented: “I think it is very powerful for children to see someone small or weak or different like a snail triumphing against the odds. Having a snail as the hero of a story is obviously doubly symbolic, because it is the smallest and slowest creature. It is like the symbolic child.”
Actor Samuel L. Jackson – who provides the voice for the character Whiplash, the super-cool boss of a pit crew of racing snails – couldn’t agree more on how Turbo can inspire the younger audience. For one, Whiplash is often challenging all the other snails to be the best that they can be, even when the outcome is working against them – something that Jackson knows a thing or two about.
Jackson shared: “I had a dream; and my dream was spawned from my reading and watching films about places that I wanted to see and things that I wanted to do. I knew I did not want to stay in the place where I grew up (Chattanooga, Tennessee) – where I wasn’t able to do everything that other people could do, because I was in the segregated South.
“There were certain things that I could not do just because I was black. It was part of my dream and my goal to get out of there when I was an adult. I knew I was going to be somewhere else and from my reading I knew the world was bigger than that place where I was raised. I wanted to be in that bigger world; I wanted to see it and experience it. The fire was lit under me so that I knew no matter what happened I was going to do something special.
“Turbo has that same dream, of watching fast things go by and wanting to be that fast thing himself. He wants to move like a racing driver and be part of that world. Then all of a sudden when he has this freak experience and he becomes fast, it is so exhilarating for him to know how it feels. It is great to give kids the belief that if they put in the effort and the work they can get a positive result,” said Jackson. – Mumtaj Begum
Turbo opens in cinemas nationwide on Thursday.
Free tickets to 'Turbo'
Life in the fast lane