Saturday, July 27, 2013

There's nothing wrong with me, Chet!

Ben Johnson, Marion Jones: Track and Field.
Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong: Cycling.
Every single baseball player: Major League Baseball.

In certain sports, the use of performance enhancing drugs seems so commonplace, that it barely even registers emotionally when somebody new gets busted. These athletes risk long-term health by juicing their bodies with chemicals simply for a shot at momentarily dominating their sport. Sadly, in the summer of 2013, the list continues to grow. And this final name really hurts, not only for the kids in Milwaukee, but for youngsters all over the world.

Theo: Snail Racing.

Dreamworks' Turbo has the misfortune of coming to theaters mere weeks after established animated franchises raked it in (Monsters U [review] and Despicable Me 2 [review] are both top 5 in dollars earned this year). While racing snails are probably interesting enough to entice the little ones, Turbo, sadly, is nothing we haven't seen before. And judging by the opening numbers, we probably won't see again.

Box-office numbers and animation saturation aside, the real problem is  familiarity. Turbo is essentially a retelling of Cars with snails and people, instead of...well, cars and more cars. Throw in a smattering of Rookie of the Year and you've seen this movie already. You know what's going to happen and you sure as shit know how it's going to end. But, it's certainly enough fun along the way, especially if you're sitting shotgun to an almost-four year old, and merrily stuffing your face full of cornbread popcorn. Ain't nothing wrong with that.
Anyway, on to the story. Oh, feel free to replace any of the nouns and see if it reminds you any other kids' movies, okay?

A tiny snail named Theo dreams of going fast, and one day, after a freak accident, wakes up to realize his dream has come true. He's an oddball now (a chemically enhanced freak of nature, dubbed Turbo), defying the way he should be, and simultaneously challenging others to let go of their narrow preconceptions. He believes in himself, and finds another outcast to believe in him, too (a taco truck guy of all people). They go on a road trip to ultimately face an unbeatable opponent. Eventually, the odds are completely stacked against them and the adversity is so strong, they ought to just be happy that they came this far and head home. But in a shocking turn of events, those who once didn't believe in them now believe! I'll let you guess figure out how it all wraps up. Because, in the creepiest voice I can muster...I'll never tellllllll....

Obscure Brittany Murphy quote complete, let's cross something else off the imaginary checklist: the Yays and Boos.

  • Dude might be having a tough summer, but I fully enjoyed Ryan Reynold's voice work as Turbo. 
  • Also a big fan of Bill Hader's work as the uber-prick, Guy Gagne. Funny stuff.
  • Tomatoes, (though definitely not the overripe variety) play a pretty big role here, and I can support that. They're like crack for snails.
  • Soundtrack Hall-of-Fame candidates: It's Tricky by Run DMC. Overused, but still effective. I'm pretty sure my son started to dance in his seat during this one. Runner-up: Jump Around by House of Pain. My kid loves this song. Word to his moms, he came to drop bombs. Um, and stuff.
  • You have to cheer, even just a little, to see the world of snails realized in very pretty animation. Their little world in the garden was imaginative and very cool. 
  • Okay, I'll admit it. For a split second, I got a little choked up when Turbo's brother, Chet (voiced by the peerless Paul Giamatti), jumps in at the end. I don't know what it is, and you could see it coming a mile away, but damned if I wasn't just a little inspired to see some sweet brotherly love, snail-style.
  • And finally, the ending! Of course that's what was going to happen, but it's pretty much perfect regardless. Even if the first 80 minutes barely moved the needle, this finale is genius. I might've even leaned forward myself.
  • I kind of seriously hate how all the second tier animated movies have characters that talk like B-Rad from Malibu's Most Wanted.
  • Weird Shellcrushing Kid aka Bike Boy. Bad enough he looks like a huge douche, but turns out he's a gigantic one. Though, to be fair, I did actually laugh out loud when he got his (think a less-intentional revenge on Sid from Toy Story).
  • The Plaza Crew. I guess they're all likable enough, but seriously, these are the exact same characters from Radiator Springs. If they're going to be redundant, so will I.
  • Not really a Boo right now, but during the movie, I would have killed an actual person just to have one of those animated tacos. My God, they were so lovingly crafted. In fact, the thought crossed my mind to abandon my family mid-movie, and head straight to Taco Bell. But only after bursting through the theater wall like a Mexican version of the Kool-Aid Man, of course.
  • The other snails. Sure, I loves me some Snoop Dogg/Lion. And you can never go wrong with Samuel L. Jackson. But I'm pretty sure the rest of the snails were there solely so that a factory in China could create something my son would want to collect. Them all.
  • And finally, this speaks more to where I live (clearly a Boo), but we had some spirited applause at the end. I mean, this was borderline standing ovation. It drives me nuts when we applaud the filmed actors, but the animated snails? Absolutely ridiculous.
My daughter was due today, but apparently she's not ready. Or, more likely, she's just another member of this family who can't show up on time for anything. My wife (somehow asleep right now) is incredibly uncomfortable, as these final moments are moving at a snail's pace.

A regular snail. Not a chemically-enhanced one.


  1. There you have it. You've finally seen a big summer blockbuster before I did. Just like Turbo realised, dreams do come true :). But judging from the box-office this might not qualify as "big". I deliberately skipped this at the cinemas but do plan to see it once it gets out on DVD.

    You don't like people applauding at the end of movies? That's a "Boooo!" to me :P

    Congrats on the new addition to the family!!

    1. Oh, I don't want your pity. You probably could have seen this one a month ago...but you wisely chose to skip it. Damn you.

      DVD is likely the way to go. It really isn't a terrible's just incredibly typical.

      Wait. You're booing the fact that I'm booing people who clap at the movies? Did I get that right? You do realize you're not at a play, right? Do you clap when your plane lands, too?

      Thanks! Still no word. She's now two days late.

  2. I've been checking your blog regularly to see if there is a birth announcement. Give your wife a hug for me. Being 9 months pregnant in the heat of summer sucks -- I did it ... TWICE. And of course Murphy will dictate that the baby goes past her due date. My oldest arrived 3 weeks late, and I'd been ordered to take early maternity leave due to possible pre-eclampsia. Naturally there was a heat wave (that's before we could afford air conditioning). And of course there was nothing on T.V. except the police chasing O.J. Simpson around L.A. after he allegedly murdered his wife.

    1. I like how you used 'allegedly' in that last line.

      We're in the hospital now, actually, and just playing the waiting game. Apparently, it's becoming rapidly clear that being induced sucks. I mean, not for me...they do have wifi. I will give her that hug, though. I just have to avoid all these damn wires.

      I still can't believe three weeks late. THREE weeks. That's crazy. We're at three days and it feels like a month!

  3. BTW, all my kids were induced. They got an early start on being too ornery to do anything that's expected of them. The Hubby and I can't figure out where they get their stubbornness from. :-P