Parenthood brings with it many things, including an increasingly nonchalant attitude towards poop and puke, and with it the only thing you’ll find yourself up-to-date with, animated movies. Even those that might have in past years passed you by rear their heads, especially as relatives and friends search for appropriate gifts for each and every occasion. You end up with copies of films that you might never have looked at otherwise.
This, my friends, brings us to 2013’s Turbo about a snail who wants to be a racing car driver and magically obtains superspeed while ensconced in a Fast & Furious style race car. Tito, who just happens to race snails with his friends, finds him and them along with their band of snails and snail racers head for the Indy 500 to race against Turbo’s heroes.
The plot is madness in itself, but what caught my eye were the credits at the end and I realised the one job in the world where there are absolutely no rules is casting director for an animated feature. Ryan Reynolds and Paul Giamatti play brothers!! I feel like I could stop there, but Ken Jeong plays a female Korean nail salon owner… who races snails. Samuel L. Jackson plays the leader of the racing snails alongside his number two… Ben Schwartz!! No rules, see?
That’s before noting that Snoop Dogg plays a racing snail, Bill Hader, a French Canadian Indy 500 champion and Michael if we’re being real.
Once you notice it, you start to stick around for the credits of all the animated movies looking for combinations that would just never occur in a live action movie. The Ice Age series, as well as featuring Ray Romano & Queen Latifah and Dennis Leary & J-Lo as couples, throws insane and unexpected cameos into the later sequels with Drake, Adam Devine, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Nikki Minaj, Patrick Stewart, Jay Leno and Michael Strahan popping up.
My favourite decision in all of animation history is whoever came up with the idea to have Martin Scorsese in Shark Tale as pretty much himself in appearance, but y’know as a puffer fish. I’ve never actually seen Shark Tale, but I must’ve seen him in trailers and clips because I recall being obsessed and delighted by his appearance.
Closely behind that is the pairing of Woody Allen and Sly Stallone in Antz, which definitely tops DeVito and Schwarzenegger in Twins even if we don’t actually see them together. Add to that the likes of Dan Akroyd, Gene Hackman, Anne Bancroft and Danny Glover and it is quite the lineup.
In some ways, looking at the above, the world of animated feature casting is worlds away from traditional Hollywood casting. There is not a day soon that I see them giving Ray Romano a black wife in a movie. There’s an openness to the diversity that let’s you know it is not going to be seen.
The other thing is that even if you fuck it up, you just start again as evidenced by The Good Dinosaur replacing nearly everybody with only Frances McDormand remaining (obviously). Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris, Lucas Neff and John Lithgow among others were sent packing and replaced Jeffrey Wright, Anna Paquin and Steve Zahn. I would love the channce to just correct my mistakes at work so easily, and I could with my new dream job as a casting director for animated movies.
I’m guessing there might still be an opening because the person who cast Colin Firth as Paddington has surely never worked again.
Scott Cumming enjoys reading too much to consider himself a proper writer. He resides in Aberdeen with his partner and two sons. Catch up with all his misdemeanours on Twitter @tummidge