Since the dawn of man, we humans have always been a curious species. Our curiosity has led us to build structures, hunt for food and above all, create fire! There’s no doubt that the creation of fire was a monumental stepping stone in human evolution. With this sense of curiosity, though, we have discovered many things to fear as well. There are always going to be predators in the world and our survival depends on our ability to outwit our foes and prevail with our intelligence. Unfortunately, the Neanderthals, or “cavemen”, weren’t the smartest of species.
The Crood family is the centerpiece of The Croods. With a family of six, it’s up to Grug (Nicolas Cage) to keep his family safe. That won’t be easy, considering his daughter Eep (Emma Stone) is a curious and frustrated teenager who just wants to get out of her cave! Her brother Thunk (Clark Duke) is a mindless buffoon who obeys his father’s every order and her youngest sister Sandy (Randy Thom) is a wild child! Her other Ugga (Catherine Keener) is more sympathetic to her cause, but Gran (Cloris Leachman) is not. Just when Eep thinks her life in the cave is over, she sees a blinding “sun” through the cave cracks!
As she wanders off to explore what she saw, she bumps into Guy (Ryan Reynolds), another human! He possesses the power of fire and warns of the impending doom of the Earth! As Pangaea is separating, Eep and her family will have to tag along with Guy to save themselves. They face exquisite and unique animals and the elements as they watch the world they knew crumble behind them. The only question is, will they be able to survive long enough to preserve themselves and their species?
From the first trailer for this film, I was a bit skeptical. It looked like any other average animated film that was made to make a few extra dollars. Instead, The Croods was a film about family and survival, set in the prehistoric age! The humor and lifestyle that the family exhibits is very enjoyable and the “caveman” ways are handled very well. Especially, when Guy witnesses first hand, how they live. Guy is a more primitive Neanderthal and he’s often horrified by the mannerisms of the Crood family. That separation of lifestyles makes for a lot of enjoyment!
At its core, The Croods is also about letting go of old habits and being open to new things. The family only knows one way of life and all the different ways that their lives could be ended. They fall into the same routines to preserve their precious lives. The only problem, is that their life is boring and restricting. For a teenage girl, life inside a cave would be horrible. As we all grow up, we want to go off and explore the world. At the same time, our parents also want to keep us close to home and away from all the bad in the world. Eventually, though, we all need to leave the nest… or cave…
Nic Cage may be one of the laughing stocks of Hollywood for his “over-acting”, but he’s relatively tame in this film. He plays a concerned father who fears for his family. He also, like most fathers, does not like the idea of his daughter running around with a young man. Emma Stone was funny, as per the usual, and she really got into her role. Voice acting does take effort and it’s evident that this cast put in a lot of effort into their performances. That little bit of extra effort makes for more real performances and helps the characters connect better with the audiences.
As most animated films do, The Croods falls into some of the same routines that make it predictable and all too familiar. We get characters for the sake of comedic relief, impossible survival rates and the necessary shift in mood that comes towards the end of the film. The Croods, towards the end of the film, can almost be called play-by-play. It will all play out in the format of a character realizing that he/she was wrong and making a sacrifice or large change to satisfy the protagonist. Character-wise, I thought Reynolds character was the weakest link. It’s not that he was bad, per say, but he was just okay. The role could have been played by anyone and it wouldn’t have made a difference about how the character is received.
At the end of the day, The Croods is actually a pretty enjoyable film that will teach a great lesson to parents and children. The story is fun and is one that’s more original than most films of late. The incorporation of Neanderthal “stereotypes” is very funny and is fairly, historically accurate too. The cast is what elevates this film to the next level and they really become their characters. Children will laugh at the intended humor and adults will laugh at the implied humor (which there is a lot of). If you’re looking for family fun, look no further than The Croods!
The Croods Trailer