Tuesday morning DreamWorks Animation gave a sneak peek of its accelerated 2013 slate at Fox (its new distribution partner): The Croods (March 22), Turbo (July 19), and Mr. Peabody & Sherman (Nov. 1). The accelerated slate is just the beginning as DreamWorks plans on releasing at least three movies a year through 2016 (including four in 2015).
We saw 35 minutes of the prehistoric comedy/adventure, The Croods (produced by Kristine Belson and Jane Hartwell), which has taken nine years to complete. Chris Sanders joined Kirk DeMicco as fellow director; then departed to make How to Train Your Dragon; and returned to see it through. Civilization’s first modern family headed by a cautious dad (a terrific Nicholas Cage), is forced to flee its home when the world suffers a cataclysmic change. In fact, nature is the antagonist, compelling dad to alter his strategy. Meanwhile, his teenage daughter (Emma Stone) falls for a good-looking yet incongruous guy (Ryan Reynolds), who appears to have all the right survival instincts with his clear vision of the future. Stunning landscapes and colorful creatures populate The Croods, which makes for a wild road picture. It’s fast and funny yet the “adapt or die” theme should resonate with adults, making this DreamWorks’ best bet for Oscar consideration.
Meanwhile, we also viewed the setup of Turbo from director David Soren and producer Lisa Stewart: an underdog story about a garden snail (Reynolds taking the lead this time) from the Valley that dreams of being a racer. Lo and behold, after an accidental ingestion of nitrous oxide, Turbo gets his wish. It’s a story of brothers in conflict (Paul Giamatti voices the cautious older sibling) inspired by Rocky and Breaking Away. This need for speed has a very ’80s retro vibe.
Finally, Rob Minkoff beamed nostalgically in showing off Mr. Peabody & Sherman (produced by Alex Schwartz and Denise Nolan Cascino). Judging from the promising footage, DreamWorks has made the transition nicely from Jay Ward’s original hand-drawn characters to CG. We find Mr. Peabody (a pitch perfect Ty Burrell) escaping from the guillotine during the French Revolution with the help of the sun and Sherman’s glasses and making a hasty retreat in the WayBack machine. But in expanding the premise for the big screen, they’ve turned the dog and his boy reversal inside out, exploring the father/son relationship for the first time. Indeed, it’s startling to hear Sherman tell Mr. Peabody that he loves him after they say goodnight and the canine dad unable to say the “L” word in return.
More good news: Minkoff told me afterward that there will be a Rocky & Bullwinkle short in front of the feature, with June Foray voicing Rocky.