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Mar 22, 2013

Film Review: THE CROODS (2013): Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds

The Croods

The Croods (2013) Film Review, a movie directed by Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and starring Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, and Cloris Leachman.

The Family

The Croods consist of cave couple Ugga (Catherine Keener) and Grug (Nicholas Cage) with their three cave kids: rebellious teenager Eep (Emma Stone), her dense 9-year-old brother Thunk (Clark Duke), and her baby sister Sandy who fancies herself a ferocious animal. Cloris Leachman voices the incompletely-evolved grandma (she still has a tail) to round out the cave family.

Plot Synopsis

The Crood family eek out a subsistence survival by hunting whatever they can in the short time Grug allows them outside of the cave every day. Every moment is fraught with danger and the cave—providing safety for the family—is the only buffer between them and certain death. With the exception of Eep, the family sleeps in a pile on top of the family patriarch both for warmth and security. Eep has a ledge of her own and dreams of life outside of the cave. One evening she sneaks out of the cave and goes exploring. She encounters two things she has never seen before: fire and something even more spectacular—a human boy. She quickly becomes smitten with Guy (Ryan Reynolds), setting off a chain of events that leads the family away from the safety of the only home they’ve ever known on a journey of self-discovery to “tomorrow.”

Film Review

The prehistoric wonderland of The Croods dazzles visually, but the plot and script are decidedly less stunning. The opening scene introduces the nuclear cave family—plus grandma—and their typical struggle for survival:  they try to chase down and steal a large bird egg guarded by a large, athletic bird that is just as savvy—if not moreso—than the humanoids it shares the land with.

From the very beginning, the film makes good use of the 3D capabilities. Unlike other movies where the 3D seems like an afterthought, the filmmakers of The Croods factored the visuals in from the start. Glowing embers from the fire seemed to float out over the audience prompting small children to leap out of their seats to catch them. The non-3D animation impresses as well.  Primary colors pop off the screen, especially in the Avatar-esque rainforest the family encounter over the cliff from their old cave. In the forest, wondrous new animals fly, scurry, and creep into the viewers’ imaginations. There is a particularly spectacular scene involving a giant flock of hot-coral-colored carnivorous birds swarming around Eep and Guy that showcased the best of the film’s animation.

Even-though the main character is a voluptuous teenaged girl falling in love with the only other human outside of her family, the film’s main audience will be small children—and their parents—who still enjoy the humor of The Flintstones or the Ice Age trilogy. The Croods lacks the subtlety and cross-generational humor of the Ice Age movies; true to its name, its humor is far more of a blunt instrument with a few exceptions. Belt was a scene-stealer and should have been utilized far more as a sidekick. The sabre-toothed tiger also had some great moments in the film, especially towards the end.

Overall, the script relied far too much on tired old clichés about cavemen being stupid and husbands and mother-in-laws despising one another. The themes “change is always good” and “young supplanting the old” currently run rampant through children’s entertainment; The Croods embraced this endorsement of youthful rebellion wholeheartedly and took it to the limit with Eep feeling absolutely no remorse for endangering her entire family or all but humiliating her father by encouraging the family to cease following his lead.

While it is lacking in tact, it does evoke some emotion. Audiences of all ages will blink back a tear during the farewell scene between Eep and Grug and break out grinning when Thunk adopts a familiar pet. We learn that Grug invented the hug, Polaroids have been around since the Stone Age, and those Paleolithic cave paintings were illustrated bedtime stories. True to its name, in a landscape largely devoid of quality children’s fare, The Croods will stomp into your theater and demand your family’s attention and entertainment dollars: there are worse ways to spend an afternoon.

Rating: 6/10