Year 8, Day 10 - 1/10/16 - Movie #2,210
BEFORE: Ten days in to 2016, and I've managed to decrease my watchlist by 7 films, to 158. For me that's a really good pace, and if I could keep that up, I could get down to 144 by the end of January, and have a decent chance of finishing this year. But new films are popping up, and February's going to bring TCM's "31 Days of Oscar" programming, and I'll most likely not be able to keep reducing the watchlist at that rate.
New films added to the list confuse my linking further, also - I'll face a decision after tonight about whether to stick with my plan for January, the one that gets me safely to the start of the romance chain, or follow the Samuel L. Jackson link, and find a new path. Because I've tried to create a chain that links everything left on the list, but it can't be done. I've only programmed to mid-March, and how can I possibly know if what's left at that point, plus the films I add, can be worked into a coherent plan? I think I'll just have to figure out the next new film I want to see in theaters, and make that the next destination to link to. Oscar nominations could give me a new direction also, but I don't think there's anything in contention that I want to rush out and see.
Linking from "Big Hero 6", Maya Rudolph carries over to "Turbo".
THE PLOT: A freak accident might just help an everyday garden snail achieve his biggest dream: winning the Indy 500.
AFTER: Yes, I know it's a kids' movie, so perhaps I should cut it some slack, but...I feel that a kids' movie still needs to make some logical sense, even if it's sent in a fantasy world. In just the last few nights I've watched films set in worlds where people ride dragons, give themselves super-powers with impossible technology, and battle each other with unlikely serums and ray-guns. You would think something like this would fit right in, but this film is different in one aspect - it seems to be set in the very real world of today's auto racing, and therefore its fantastical nature seems out of step with its own reality.
Like, I can buy Peter Parker being bitten by a radioactive spider and gaining super-strength, spider-sense, and the ability to stick to walls, because he lives in a universe that is not our own, one where there are mutant powers and super-soldier serums and cosmic rays and Terrigen mists - geez, you're something of a freak in the Marvel Universe if you DON'T have a superpower. After watching the first "Spider-Man" film (with Tobey Maguire) my wife and asked me why Peter Parker didn't need his glasses any more, after being bitten by the spider. "Really?" I asked, "THAT'S where you draw the line? The guy gets all these super-powers, and you're OK with that, but you can't believe his vision cleared up?"
But it shows that we all draw that line that separates believable vs. unbelievable in a different place. Well, this is where I draw the line tonight. I can believe that teens can fly on dragons, but I can't believe that a snail can compete in the Indy 500. For about a hundred different reasons, the first of which is: he's a snail. Now, he's a snail that got dipped in nitrous oxide, but still, he's a snail. And he's about a thousand times smaller than an Indy racecar, plus he's all slimy and sticky and he has no experience on a racetrack.
I should point out that the nitrous oxide doesn't just make Turbo fast, it somehow turns his eyes into headlights and gives him a car horn and allows him to pick up radio signals and on and on. See what I mean? It's Peter Parker all over, they've gone over where any rational adult would draw the line - even if you believe that a chemical would make him fast, it wouldn't also grant him powers that replicate various auto parts, because that's not how chemicals work, even if they worked that other way. It would be like Peter Parker somehow gaining the ability to speak French.
Then we've got the old "rule book" argument, making the film's plot possible. This is seen in everything from "Racing Stripes" to all the "Air Bud" movies. You know, the one where someone argues that because the rule book doesn't explicitly say that a zebra can't run in a horse race, or a dog can't play basketball, that it simply must be allowed. I think movies have pushed this little sports argument way past the point of being believable. Because the argument should go like this: "Hey, there's nothing in the rule book that says a snail CAN'T compete in the Indy 500." "Umm, yes there is, right there on page 2 where it says that all racers must be in a car, with a combustion engine, and then the next 50 pages are all about the technical specs that said car must conform to. He's not a car, he's a snail, so he's out."
It turns out the CEO of the Indy 500 folds like a cheap suit, just because there's a viral video of the snail moving very fast (and conveniently leaving a light trail that can be seen, because the snail is so small, there's just no way he'd be visible on phone camera footage. Or TV footage of the race, so there's another problem...) and somehow the power of a room full of people shouting "Let him race!" is greater than upholding the integrity of a sports organization that's had standards for the last 105 years.
The film also blatantly ripped off the ending of "Talladega Nights" - I'll say no more about this for fear of spoilers (though if you can't predict the ending of this film, you just haven't seen many movies) but any rational adult, even one forced to watch this with a youngster, would just be shouting "Oh COME ON!" for the majority of the last reel.
Plus it's a weird message to send out to the kids, and I think films aimed at children have a responsibility to stop and think about this for a second. The message seems to be, it's OK to use a chemical to enhance your performance, as long as you win in the end. (Even if you fall for that "rule book" argument, I'm betting there's something in the Indy 500 rule book against using nitrous...) We're way beyond the old "Tortoise and the Hare" story - which would have been totally different if the tortoise were allowed to be chemically enhanced. How about a film that teaches kids that not ALL of their dreams are possible? Something that sets them up to have low expectations for the future, wouldn't that be better for them in the long run? Then maybe someday we'd have a generation of teens and twenty-somethings that weren't so damn entitled. Just sayin'.
NITPICK POINT: Even before the film started to push the envelope of believability, while the snails were seen working in the "plant", I still had problems. With the set-up, mind you. Basically, they harvest tomatoes in someone's garden, separating out the overripe ones from the good ones - but doesn't the owner of the garden notice at some point that all of the tomatoes are disappearing? Who grows tomatoes and then casually doesn't mind that the snails are eating all of the good ones? At some point, that person would create some kind of defense against the well-organized snail community, that's all.
NITPICK POINT #2: The film also treats the journey from L.A. to Indianapolis like it's no big deal. The two cities are 1,800 miles apart - do I believe that someone can drive a taco truck that far in what appears to be a few days, without major obstacles to overcome, flat tires, engine trouble, etc. As I said, we all have to draw that line of believability somewhere.
Also starring the voices of Ryan Reynolds (last seen in "A Million Ways to Die in the West"), Paul Giamatti (last seen in "12 Years a Slave"), Michael Peña (last seen in "Gone in Sixty Seconds"), Luis Guzman (last seen in "We're the Millers"), Samuel L. Jackson (last seen in "The Great White Hype"), Bill Hader (last seen in "The To Do List"), Richard Jenkins (last seen in "White House Down"), Ken Jeong (last heard in "Despicable Me 2"), Snoop Dogg, Michelle Rodriguez (last seen in "Battle Los Angeles"), Ben Schwartz (last seen in "This Is Where I Leave You"), Paul Dooley (last seen in "The Out of Towners"), Chris Parnell (last seen in "Down With Love"), Kurtwood Smith (last seen in "Hitchcock")
RATING: 3 out of 10 checkered flags