The Croods is a truly fascinating surprise. It seems like it might depend too much on physical humor and low-hanging fruit punchlines, but it tosses in a few very unexpected surprises. Then, when you realize that the main character is actually the dad, the movie takes off and really delivers.
Plus, Nicholas Cage should only do voice-over work now. He’s marvelous.
Here’s a trailer:
Released March 22, 2013
Written by Chris Sanders, Kirk De Micco, and John Cleese
Directed by Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders
Starring Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Nicholas Cage, Clark Duke, and Ryan Reynolds
* * * * *
The Croods are a tight-knit family led by hyper-paranoid Grug (Cage). All of their other caveman neighbors have died, but because Grug has rules like “Never not be afraid” and “Never leave the cave,” the Croods are still alive. But his daughter Eep (Stone) is chafing at the restrictions and doesn’t consider not dying much of a life. His wife, Ugga (Keener) does her best to keep the peace, while his son Thunk (Duke) is rather incompetent but fiercely obedient and loyal to his dad. Rounding out the family are Ugga’s mother Gran (Leachman) and the nutzo baby, Sandy.
One night, Eep notices some strange light and follows the glow until she comes upon Guy (Reynolds), a more evolved fellow who has fire. Guy tells Eep that change is coming to the land and that he can help her find a way to safety. When Grug discovers Eep has left the cave, he flips out, but before any reprisals can happen, the earth around them erupts in massive tectonic activity.
Now Grug has to lead his family to safety, learn to trust the far too smooth Guy, and find a way to keep his family close, despite his paranoia and fear of anything new. Meanwhile, the family finds that they are spreading wings they never knew they had.
Yes, this is a film about evolving cavemen.
We get some nice story twists and great character surprises– all of which leads to a final moving scene where Grug has to sacrifice everything for his family.
But is that really where it ends? Stick around– this flick has a very fine, surprising ending that delivers a solid emotional resolution.
While The Croods sometimes depends a little too much on easy punchlines, particularly with the mother-in-law jokes, it is overall very well written. It’s no Up or Finding Nemo, but it tells an excellent, moving story about characters who are very familiar to us and who have needs and hopes like all of us. The humor is generally fresh and clever and the family dynamics are just wonderful. And the way the characters solve their problems requires imagination and humility.
The voice acting is great. Nicholas Cage is a great choice for Grug, with his expressive voice and ability to flip out unexpectedly. Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds also do a great job.
Lastly, the animation is just wonderful. Truly imaginative visuals and deep layers to the world that this family travels through make the film experience totally involving.
Viewers of The Croods will generally be pleasantly surprised by the sense of wonder and life in this film, and will be warmed by a story that shows that we are capable of anything to keep our family and loved ones safe.
Content warnings: Some cartoon action and violence– mostly to comic effect.
Writing: 4.5 Acting: 4.5 Overall: 4.5
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