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Stars: Voices: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michelle Rodriguez, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Peña, Luis Guzmán, Maya Rudolph, Snoop Dogg, Bill Hader, Kurtwood Smith, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Ben Schwartz

Director: David Soren

Cartoons have given us Antz, A Bug's Life and even a whale who wanted to sing at the Met. So why not a snail who longs to compete at the Indy 500 against French über-champion Guy Gagné? Director Soren is to be congratulated: this is inspired stuff and very well scripted too.

The wonderfully imaginative beginning finds the garden snails preparing for a day among the tomatoes, which will also provide their lunch. The danger of crows, however, is ever-present - 'There goes Phil' - usually when the leader (Smith) is preparing to make a speech.

Still, everyone is content with this precarious existence, everyone, that is, except Theo (Reynolds), who prefers to be called Turbo, and watches motor-racing on an old TV in the garage.

By a remote chance, Turbo finds himself out in the big, wide world, sucked into the engine of a drag racer and given a dose of liquid nitrogen. When he emerges, he himself is supercharged: the fastest snail in all Mehico, sorry, Indiana.

Discovered by Taco joint co-owner Tity (Peña), Turbo joins the snail races run behind the café, and astounds the competition by roaring to the finish line before they've started. These are a motley collection, but I particularly liked The Shadow (Michael Patrick Bell), who retreats into the shadows any time he hisses his name.

Well, Tito wants to enter Turbo for the Indy 500, and so he does; "Ladies and gentlemen...and snail - start your engines!"

Gagné, however, is determined to win by fair means or foul, soon damaging Turbo's shell. 'Looks like,' groans the racetrack commentator (Mario Andretti), 'the party is over for the motoring mollusc.'

Voice characterisation is bright and funny - amazing that Giamatti's distinctive tones (as Turbo's brother) haven't been used more often - and the film is fast-moving and chock-full of invention. Kids will be shouting for more.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (DreamWorks). Colour by deluxe.
86 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 18 Oct 2013