DreamWorks Animation Previews Turbo, Mr. Peabody & The Croods

At DreamWorks Animation’s 2013 theatrical lineup presentation, Spinoff Online and other members of the press were given the chance to preview the studio’s 2013 slate: the prehistoric-family road trip The Croods, gastropod-friendly racing film Turbo and the big-screen revival of the Rocky and Bullwinkle staple Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

Besides the announcement that DreamWorks will be releasing three films a year beginning in 2013 (with a full slate that will take them into 2016), the studio revealed it had just signed a five-year distribution agreement with 20th Century Fox.

DreamWorks then began the presentation with the last film out next year, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, executive produced by Tiffany Ward, daughter of original Mr. Peabody animator Jay Ward, and directed by The Lion King’s Rob Minkoff. The film transforms the 1950s shorts into a CG-animated feature starring Modern Family’s Ty Burrell as Mr. Peabody and child actor Max Charles as Sherman, Peabody’s adopted human son.

Minkoff took center stage to show a joke clip of the new CG Peabody and Sherman watching a minute of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle shorts. “What I loved was they were the dog-and-boy relationship turned on its head,” the director said.“But what really made it special were the time traveling adventures they took in the Wayback Machine that Peabody invented for Sherman.”

The basic premise was laid out in a series of unfinished clips, with Peabody and Sherman living a seemingly ideal life adventuring through time (with the occasional hiccup, such as nearly being guillotined during the French Revolution), courtesy of the Wayback Machine created to educate Sherman. However, Sherman is now old enough that he has to go to school, and while Mr. Peabody has prepared his boy for academics, he hasn’t equipped him to deal with other kids.

After a quarrel with jealous classmate Penny (Modern Family’s Ariel Winter) escalates into biting, Mr. Peabody invites the girl and her family over to make amends -- only to have Sherman lose Penny on an unauthorized trip in the Wayback Machine. Now the two have to find Penny and repair the damage done to the timeline before their future goes up in smoke.

Minkoff, who brought the project to DreamWorks in 2005, joked, “It’s been my own time-travel adventure bringing it here.” The film arrives in theaters Nov. 1.

Up next was a peek at Turbo, a star-studded comedy about a garden snail with big dreams of becoming a racer. Our snail in question, the car-crazy Turbo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), gets his chance when a freak accident during an illegal human drag race transforms him, giving the snail super-speed.

Turbo is based on an original screenplay by writer/director David Soren, who said the idea came to him while spending time at home with his 6-year-old son. “Since he was barely old enough to talk, he’s been obsessed with cars and racing,” Soren said. “The second inspiration was my front yard, which has a bit of a snail problem. It was this daily collision of speed and slowness that got me starting to piece together the bones of a story.”

The cast also includes Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Rudolph, Snoop Dogg, Luis Guzman, Bill Hader, Ken Jeong, Richard Jenkins, Kurtwood Smith and Michelle Roriguez.

“The movie itself is a mash-up of superhero and racing genres, but at it’s heart it is an underdog story,” Soren said. Turbo opens July 19.

Capping the presentation was The Croods, an adventure about a cave family forced to find a new home after their old one is destroyed in an earthquake. Speaking about the film were co-directors and co-writers Chris Sanders (Lilo and Stitch, How to Train Your Dragon) and Kirk DeMicco (Space Chimps).

“This is the first DreamWorks family film that features an actual family!” DeMicco joked before explaining, “This is the last chapter of the caveman. This is the moment in time when humans left their cave and ventured out forever. Sanders chimed in that the film is set in the “Croodateous” period, a fake epoch in human prehistory.

The Amazing Spider-Man and Easy A star Emma Stone was also on hand via a prerecorded bit to plug the film, joking from a sound booth that her character, the strong teenage cave girl Eep, “Finally gave me a chance to play a character who doesn’t have trouble picking up guys -- literally.”

Eep is a curious cave girl frustrated by her overprotective father Grug (Nicolas Cage) and the rules her family must live by in order to avoid being eaten. The Croods have managed to survive the dangerous prehistoric world by shunning anything new, hiding in their cave at night and working together on the few occasions they must forage for food. In a series of clips that laid out the story, Eep defies her family to sneak out at night and stumbles into Guy (Ryan Reynolds once again), the first human to have an imagination.

Warned by Guy that their world will soon come to an end, The Croods are forced to take mankind’s first road trip when a sudden geological upheaval destroys their cave. Enthusiastic Eep and wary Grug also force Guy to come with them as a guide. The clips previewed the beginning of the family’s journey, and their growing reliance on the fire-using, tool-making and story-telling Guy, to Grug’s increasing jealousy.

Rounding out the cast is Cloris Leachman as Crood grandmother Gran, Clark Duncan as Eep’s brother Thunk and Catherine Keener as mother and wife Ugga. The Croods opens March 22.

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