The Croods

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The Croods
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The Croods
Animation, Adventure, Comedy
DreamWorks Animation
March 22nd, 2013
Release length: 1:38:00
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DreamWorks Animation have put out some truly memorable films over the years, many of which visual feasts in theatres, as well as on the small screens around the world. Anyone who has seen any of the Shrek, Madagascar, even Kung-Fu Panda films will immediately recognize the skilled staff this production company has, though they probably were out to lunch when it came to 2007’s Bee Movie. One of their latest productions, The Croods, was a film that looked like it wanted to have the same impact as some of their more well known projects, but the trailers simply didn’t cut it. But, the more people went to see it, the more it surprised audiences and critics alike. Now that it’s on DVD, do The Croods really stand as an A+ DreamWorks film well worth the cautious wait, or is it really another rare flop?

The story centers around a caveman family named Croods (get it? They’re cave people, so they’re crude and not that smart…) who live in fear of pretty much everything. Grug (Nicholas Cage) is the father of the group and keeps them all under a tight set of rules to ensure their survival. Eep (Emma Stone) is his daughter, and she is tired of being sheltered in a cave for days on end. As her urge to explore grows, she happens upon a man named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) who warns about the end of the world. He invited her to join him, but instead stays behind with her family. After a quake destroys their home and proves to Eep that Guy is right, she calls for his help once more, eventually meeting up in the new world the Croods have been thrust into. While Eep is going for the excploration, Grug and the rest of the family go in search of a new cave, a hunt that quickly goes awry.

From here it’s mostly exploration of the new world and all the new things, an evil in Grug’s eyes and against his rules. The stereotype of him hating everything and paranoid they’ll all die prevents him from embracing the experience, finding Guy as a threat to his family. Guy and Eep grow closer, the family starts taking to Guy’s interest in adventure and desire to reach the safety of higher ground. Eventually Grug and Guy are stuck in a position where they bond, and Grug makes a sacrifice for his family so they can fly with the light to the land of many suns, and out of the darkness, which also leads to one final new friendship, and resolution of another conflict.

The plot is the tried-but-true method for DreamWorks Animation, and it once again works, though often seems a bit rushed. Much of the film involves the family walking and starting to take to Guy, liking a lot of his inventions like fire, shoes, and his uplifting stories compared to Grug’s depressing tales that always end in death. When it comes to Grug, however, the hatred towards Guy is pretty strong, and seems to turn rather quick during a grim situation. The conversation they have gives some background as to why Guy is the way he is, and it’s clear Grug’s character is moved by it. The main issue is that the trust is established in the blink of an eye after almost an hour of distrust and anger, seemingly turning the page way too quickly to be remotely believable.

Much of the story is also rather bland, and much of the comedic relief is fairly limited. The Croods is definitely geared more towards being a light-hearted adventurous family experience in the vein of Avatar. The visuals are spectacular, and some of the creatures in there are very imaginative (I can’t say all these prehistoric creatures may have existed or were discovered honestly, so we’ll go with that word for now). Belt (Chris Sanders) ends up pushing some character development with Guy and Eep well enough, and the running gag of his reaction when the end is mentioned is silly enough for a few giggles. Thunk (Clark Duke) finds a pet animal along the way and names it Douglas, though it ends up rarely being used as he performs the roll over command and falls off a ledge. There’s also the large Sabretooth Tiger that constantly chases the Croods, and another cat-like animal at the start that shows up again much later.

Other than these side creatures for some laughs, much of the comedic charm lies in more running gags. Grug is always hopeful that Gran (Cloris Leachman) didn’t make it. With a smile on his face reaching five when checking up on his family, it quickly becomes a frown when Gran appears or says something to point out she’s still alive. On top of that, Grug is always being chased by something, or is the one who ends up hurt the most due to his brawn over brains attitude, leaving him to take most of the slap stick comedy. Thunk isn’t quite as swift as his father, so sometimes he falls pray to pain and can throw a few good laughs to the crowd with his reactions and poor intellect, especially when Douglas falls like mentioned earlier. But, for the most part, this film is nothing but character development, showing the interest that Eep and Guy have for one another grow, an aspect that is fleshed out quite well, and usually the source of Grug’s contempt.

Of course, the voice actors here are some of the more recognizable names in Hollywood, and they all play up their roles quite well. Nicholas Cage makes Grug’s brawn and compassion for his family completely believable, as well as the pain and confusion he often experiences. Cloris Leachman always has some excellent one-liners, especially when she tells the tale of how Gran wound up with Eep’s grandfather. Ryan Reynolds is an actor who can be really hit or miss, but does live up to the upbeat and curious role, reacting well to the actions and emotions of the Crood family such as Eep’s advances, and Grug’s loss of patience.

The Croods really wasn’t the most remarkable film DreamWorks Animation has released, but it’s good enough to keep the kids happy. This family friendly film is clearly geared more to its visual landscapes and sleek computer graphics, so watching this in 3D is definitely the best way to go. If that’s not an option, Blu-Ray is the better visual medium for a movie like this. There’s enough comedic bits throughout to make you laugh out loud, as well as generally chuckle. Between slapstick comedy, well timed one-liners, and genuinely funny side creatures, banter and events, there’s enough humor to help kill some of extensive character development in the long trek into a new world. If you just want to turn off your brain and treat your eyes to some stunning landscapes that will leave your heart a little warmer than when the film first started, The Croods is worth giving a shot.

Overall Score: 6/10
The Croods
The Croods
The Croods

Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.