Release Date: March 22, 2013
Director: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Stars (voices): Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds
Runtime: 98 min
Tagline: The Journey Begins
Meet the Croods, the world’s first family who live strictly in routine thanks to a strict father, Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage). There’s also the eldest daughter, Eep (Emma Stone), who has a very curious mind, much to her father’s dismay. Ugga (Catherine Keener) is Grug’s wife, Gran (Cloris Leachman) is Ugga’s mother, Thunk (Clarke Duke) is the eldest son, and Sandy (Randy Thom) is the speedy little baby.
Whenever the coast is clear, the family runs out of the cave and hunt for whatever food they can find. The family is usually okay with this, though the eldest daughter, Eep (Emma Stone), has a more curious mind and wants to explore the world.
One night, she spots a light glooming outside of her cave and she follows it, where she meets a slightly more advanced human, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and his adorable sloth buddy, Belt, who holds his pants up. Belt has a love for being theatrical at any suspenseful moment, as when they come around, he just loves to say “Da-da-daaaaaaaa!”
When Grug comes to find her the next morning, the family is on the way back to the cave when their world begins to collapse around them. Their cave is destroyed, and they must travel across a spectacular landscape and a new world, and with the help of Guy and Belt, discover their only hope of survival might just be a large mountain in the distance. Since Grug has been one of the only reasons the family has survived so well (believing that curiosity, new things and just about everything else equals death), his and Guy’s beliefs collide when he realizes he isn’t the only one who’s able to protect them.
The Croods is an incredibly simplistic journey. The message is also rather straight-forward, that sometimes letting your children have a life of their own is good for them. The film isn’t too imaginative either, with the journey consisting of a fast-paced trip where they discover the wonder of fire, shoes, jokes and, of course, a whole new world and strange new creatures none of these neanderthals have encountered before. Grug has the hardest time adapting, as the new world seems to be much for him to handle. Where the movie lacks in sheer imagination, it makes up for it with the fast-paced plot, heart, charm and beauty. It’s also cool to see that the family dynamics back in this time aren’t too different from what they are today. Though, you shouldn’t educate yourself from an amusing movie like this.
The norm for animated films these days are to appeal on some level to adults, as well as kids. Just look at Wreck-It Ralph, a film that was filled with video game easter eggs that actually made it more enjoyable for adults. The Croods is really more for the kids to enjoy, with childish humour like an adorable sloth, the family biting each other, or them not being able to extinguish a fire. I still did think it was hilarious, but I’m eighteen, and it might not make all people over 30 years of age find a ton of hilarity in this.
The real appeal for adults, if any, is that it’s made relatable for fathers, especially. Grug is a strict father who is most worried about Eep, and he just doesn’t want to see her grow up and not need him anymore. It is made relatable for fathers because some are afraid of losing their little girl and it might be be stressful for many to see them leave the nest, or in Grug’s case, the cave. Now, I’m not near a father yet, so I’m not speaking from personal experience — but it seems that is the emotional appeal of this feature, and it makes the characters easier to care about. One other way it is made appealing for fathers is that there’s a running gag at roll call where Grug is almost always disappointed when Gran shows up. It is really funny and it is made appealing for fathers because, really, how rarely does one find a person who loves their in-laws?
The fast-paced plot is exciting and there is hardly a dull moment. It’s an adequete plot, but it isn’t top-tier. The only things that really have room for improvement is the plot, the voicework and the imagination. The voicework is good at best, with most of the voice actors being funny and The Cage only sometimes bringing some craziness to Grug. The voicework is good during, but none of it notable or extremely memorable. It’s one of the weaker aspects of the film, sure, but the film has strong aspects in its amount of heart, childish hilarity, and charm and great replay value.
While those aspects are all fine and dandy, the real notable part is the gorgeous animation (oh, and the adorable belt). The creature animation is fantastic and everything just looks stunning, with vibrant colours and amazing palaeolithic landscape. This also has some of the most beautiful water you ever will see in animation, and you’ll just want to swim in it.