In one of the recent blizzard of stories about the making of the movie Turbo, Dario Franchitti said the filmmakers were so obsessed with detail that they asked him what pulling multiple Gs would do to a snail’s shell.
But with Turbo, the real question is “what does having the hopes of an entire form of racing riding on it do to a snail's shell?”
And don’t forget smugness and a festival of umbrage taken.
Plus endless retweets of any positivite tweets. BECAUSE IT’S UP TO US TO GET THE BUZZ GOING!!
Ironically, with all of that heaped upon Turbo, perhaps the biggest thing IndyCar racing has going for it when it comes to the film is actually:
- The vast majority of those who see the film are not connected to Twitter and
- The vast majority of those who see it are not that familiar with IndyCar and not that familiar with the Indy 500
Because to see Turbo with no IndyCar baggage is to enjoy it more.
At its core, Turbo is the millionth installment of a Hollywood staple: the story of a character overcoming the odds and the naysayers to believe in his or her own dreams. The fact that this is a familiar underdog story is by no means an indictment of the film, because, like every trip, the known end point (good guy triumphs) doesn’t necessarily mean the journey won’t be fun — or interesting or revelatory or funny or unexpected or whatever.
And Turbo’s journey is fun. It spends a bit too much time in low gear early, hammering just a few laps too long on Turbo vs. the Buzz Killers. It takes it up a gear after Turbo’s nitrous oxide transformation into a supercharged mollusk and finally hits full speed when the final star of the picture — the Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself — enters stage center.
Turbo is nothing less than an homage to IMS. Frequent fans will feel the love radiating from the screen as IMS is presented in its even-better-than-reality color and splendor.
In that respect, Turbo is Dreamworks' $125 million, heavily marketed introduction to the very best of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, both in look and feel. Not only does IMS look fantastic, it’s presented as the place where dreams become reality, where people prove naysayers wrong, and where the little guy can rise up and overcome.
Mercifully, that doesn’t set off a statistical analysis of the number of times an underdog has actually won at IMS, and nobody in my theater shouted “it was much better before Tony George wrecked it!!” Also, nobody in my theater seems to care that the Indy 500 qualifying scenes in the movie play out before empty stands. There was no animated Robin Miller or cadre of bloggers lamenting the lack of qualifying crowd.
Nor were there a barrage of doom tweets ridiculing the acres of aluminum on animated pole day that somehow manage to devolve into recriminations over “The Split” … which happened 17 years ago now and remarkably still holds many in its grip. And no counter barrage of tweets making excuses or offering the digital equivalent of “So’s your mom.” The audience doesn’t even to pine for a good overhead shot to judge attendance on race day.
Nope. My fellow movie goers were just there to have a good time, and go with it, and enjoy the here and now, free from the baggage of there and then.
While ratings (box office) will still be studied and parsed, Turbo -- perhaps because of its absurd premise of a snail in the Indy 500 -- rises above the minutia that hard-core fans immediately gravitate toward. Instead it reminds the audience of predominantly children and their young adult parents of the core of the Indianapolis 500 — teams competing and overcoming adversity and attain their dreams.
What will that do for the actual Indy 500? I don't know. My advice to film-goers: don't worry about it.
For many more reviews of Turbo, see RottenTomatoes.com