Audiences love to root for courageous dreamers who pursue their goals when the odds are stacked firmly against them. It’s a tradition that has stood the test of time and one that has a powerful appeal for filmmaker David Soren, who tells the story of an unusual underdog-–or under snail-–in the animated 3D film, “Turbo.”
Voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Turbo dreams of being fast, fast enough to compete against champions in one of the world’s toughest car races. Defying logic, physics, nature and critics (including his own brother) the small snail sets out on a thrilling adventure.
Director David Soren describes Turbo in the new movie from DreamWorks Animation, as the ultimate underdog’, for obvious reasons. “Turbo is a snail and snails are constantly faced with challenges. They are smushed, salted and stepped on; they’re eaten in some parts of the world,” says Soren who set his story in Southern California where he lives with his family. The filmmaker became fascinated with the snails he observed in his own front yard. “Mother Nature has dealt them a bad hand,” he says. “When it seems impossible for a character to have any chance of success, that’s exactly what makes a great underdog story. And that’s what it is like for Turbo.”
Turbo dreams of escaping the mundane confines of his sluggish community. Frustrated with life in the slow lane, he has a fantasy of racing glory and an adrenaline-fueled life that’s a far cry from the yard where he lives with his cautious brother Chet (Paul Giamatti). Frustrated by his own physical limitations, Turbo wants to move at high speed and is inspired by his hero, a French Canadian racing driver.
Like “Turbo,” all the best underdog stories are inspirational and exciting. They invariably revolve around decent people (or animals) who don’t come from privilege (it’s hard to find arich underdog) and are driven to succeed in the face of what appear to be insurmountable obstacles, within themselves and in the world around them. Underdog tales remind us that we have the power to change our own destiny. And that’s an intoxicating theme.
It’s a theme that is close to director David Soren’s heart. “Underdog stories for me are some of my favorites out there. Inspirations for me on “Turbo” were “Rocky” and “The Karate Kid.” They have become part of my DNA. In the time-honored tradition of the underdog, Turbo’s ultimate goal is ambitious: to compete in the Indianapolis 500 (one of the world’s most famous car races). Like all underdogs, Turbo is single-minded.
“He lives in the front yard of a house in the San Fernando Valley and sneaks into the garage every night to watch racing on an old dusty TV,” says David Soren. “Early in the movie Turbo has a freak accident and gains the power of incredible speed, he can move at 200miles per hour. People love to root for the little guy like Turbo. When I see a good underdog movie I get fired up. It makes me want to crack five eggs into a glass and swallow them whole, then go and work out. That kind of movie makes me want to work harder and push myself to do better and go farther. That is ideally what I hope this movie does for people.”
“I think everybody feels like an underdog to some degree. It’s why DAVID AND GOLIATH is such a relatable story and such a great parable. Overcoming enormous obstacles in order to achieve a goal is what makes an achievement mean something. It’s the key ingredient,” says the actor Ryan Reynolds, who voices TURBO. Currently at the top of his game as an actor, Reynolds says he can identify with the hero of the film.
“Turbo is a guy who sees himself on the wrong side of destiny. Unfortunately he’s a garden snail. And garden snails usually fail to register even the tiniest blip on the spectrum of greatness. He is completely disillusioned with his lot in life and with the perception of his life as ‘ordinary’. He sees himself as a guy who is on the very cusp of true greatness. My favorite underdog story? I loved ROCKY,” says Reynolds. “It is one of the greatest ever told.”
“Turbo” 3D features an all-star voice cast including Paul Giamatti, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, Ben Schwartz and Samuel L. Jackson – opens July 19 in theaters nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.