While home for Thanksgiving, I watched DreamWorks’ Turbo with my 16-month-old niece. This animated adventure tells the story of a snail who obtains the ability to go super fast after a freak accident. Here’s the trailer:

Voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Theo, who goes by Turbo after the accident, has always dreamed of racing. The desire for speed is a part of who he is. His brother Chet, voiced by Paul Giamatti, wants him to stop his dreaming and conform to the normal snail culture. After the accident, both Turbo and Chet are rescued from a crow by Tito, who drives his brother’s taco truck by day and races snails with his friends at night. Tito and Turbo are perfect for each other, and before long Turbo is racing against his idol, Guy Gagné, in the Indy 500.

Generally speaking, the movie is predictable, but I enjoyed it. I couldn’t help but take Turbo’s description of how he feels inside and desire for racing as a kind of metaphor — or at least a parallel to — being gay. For example, Theo is an outcast among the other snails, who routinely pick on him. Chet tells him, “You do this to yourself, you know.  Look at you.  It’s like you’re almost forcing them.” Turbo responds, “I can’t help it.  It’s in my nature.” But Chet will have none of this: “No it’s not.  And the sooner you accept the dull, miserable reality of your existence, the happier you’ll be.”

This is exactly the same conversation obviously gay kids have to have with their parents and other grown ups all the time. Their difference is their fault as is any bullying that might result from other people seeing it. I’m not saying that this parallel was definitely intended by David Soren, the co-writer and director, but I enjoyed the movie all the more for taking it this way.

We also watched Disney’s 2006 animated movie Cars while I was there. I hadn’t seen it before, since PJ and I don’t often see animated movies. I can definitely see why it’s become a classic of contemporary animated movies. It, too, was relatively predictable, but it was a lot of fun. Who would have thought that cars and snails could make such interesting characters!

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