Review: The Croods – The ‘evolution’ of computer-animation
The Croods is a very fun computer-animated film that is a mash-up of prehistoric pop culture influences like The Flintstones, Ice Age and even the 1981 live-action film Quest for Fire; but at its core this movie utilizes the basic plot synopsis used in a million different sitcoms about teenagers striking out on their own and causing strife amongst the family but ultimately bringing everyone closer together.
The angst-ridden teen in this case is Eep (Emma Stone), who is tired of her Dad’s stupid caveman rules about never trying anything new and always being in the cave before dark. She’s anxious to explore the world, but her Dad, Grug (Nicolas Cage), makes a good point in that they live in a world fraught with danger and gnarly beasts that want to eat you at every turn.
The Croods prehistoric world is changing quickly all around them as mountains collapse and volcanos erupt, but Eep’s new friend Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who actually knows how to create fire, tells them of a better place called “Tomorrow” and he convinces Grug’s family, which includes Eep’s Mom Ugga (Catherine Keener), brother Thunk (Clark Duke), Grandmother (Cloris Leachman) and baby sister Sandy, to follow him towards the paradise he dreams is beyond the horizon.
I’m certain that the science behind this film wouldn’t hold up to any kind of serious scrutiny (and I’m sure creationists are going to take issue with it as well), but it is a lot of fun nonetheless. The Croods is endlessly inventive with its creatures and beautiful elaborate scenery, especially when the family finally makes its way out of the desert wasteland they’ve inhabited most of their lives.
The animation in The Croods is top notch and intricately detailed, and although I usually detest the use of 3D in films, this one actually has some moments that make it worthwhile to see in that format (although – as usual — you give up a bright and unmuddied picture in order to enjoy the 3D effects.) The characters themselves are still fairly cartoony, but most of the backgrounds and digital sets are amazingly realistic.
The voice talent in the film is very good and Nicolas Cage stands out proving he was born to play a caveman. The Croods is written and directed by Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders, with Mr. Sanders being the man who brought us the other great animated films Lilo & Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon.
Story wise there’s nothing happening here you haven’t seen before, but its presentation, set in a fantasy world just before man walks upright, is very cool and unique. I loved how the The Croods bounce between walking on all fours to Homo erectus mode and then back again, and little baby Sandy Crood was particularly hilarious as a human Tasmanian Devil-like hybrid.
DreamWorks Animation has done a successful job in creating another fantastic family film that both adults and kids will truly enjoy. If you love mythical creatures like flying piranhas and alligator-dogs then you will probably want to see this one twice as the world of The Croods to too big for just one viewing. Grade: 8/10
Photos © 2013 DreamWorks Animation LLC.