Released in 2013, The Croods is a 3D computer animated film set in a fictional prehistoric era. It features the voices of Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman and Clark Duke. Produced by DreamWorks Animation, it’s directed and written by Kirk DeMicco (Racing Stripes, Space Chimps) and Chris Sanders (Lilo and Stitch, How To Train Your Dragon)
The Croods are a family of cavemen who spend all their time either fighting for survival or holed up in a cave. All their neighbours fell prey to some predator or equally unfortunate incident, leaving them the sole survivors. The family consists of Dad, Mom, their three kids and Dad’s mother in law. Dad is the natural leader, a superstitious, overprotective man who’s obsessed with his family’s safety. Everything new and different, curiosity and fun are BAD and result in death. On the other hand you have the eldest daughter Eep, who’s desperate to explore, experience new things, and live as opposed to existing. The Croods’ lives are turned upside down when their cave is destroyed due to massive natural changes (Pangaea splitting into different continents). Here enters a new character in their life, Guy, an intelligent but lonely nomad who’s a little ahead on the evolutionary scale in terms of brain power; and his pet sloth cum pants holder Belt, who has a flair for the dramatic. The rest of the movie is about this motley group’s search for a new safe haven and the experiences of life along the way.
Visually the movie is stunning. There are a new range of animals in this historic world, an imaginative mix of present day species. The action sequences are wonderful, especially the hunting scene at the very beginning is fantastic.
Story wise the movie is weak and a mash up of other animated films, with average dialogues. Not the most remarkable work from DreamWorks. The humour is slapstick which eventually becomes boring and annoying. The movie is filled with stereotypes and clichés, like the Father/Protective Parent and the rebellious daughter angle. It also underperforms in the emotional department. Though the creatures are imaginative, some were ill conceived and discomforting.
The movie has three good points: the first being the animation. The second is the well captured struggle and discovery of new things – the father’s wariness, Eep’s fascination and everyone’s uncertainty. Thirdly, the scene of Eep’s discovery of fire, and the way she tries to understand it is portrayed beautifully.
Eep’s infatuation with Guy, though predictable, was not respectable, since initially she proved to be a strong, independent girl who wanted to learn new things and explore the world she lives in, instead of living in fear, in a cave, for days at a time. That part was pushed to the side-lines as she turned into an obsessed, teenage fan to the rock star like Guy.
The beginning of the movie is good, the ending is ridiculous and stupid. It’s a film only kids can enjoy; adults would, at the most, find it amusing. If not for the ending, I would’ve given it three gems.