t h e c r o o d s
22nd March 2013
Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Nic Cage, Emma Stone
9th March 2013
DreamWorks latest offering is proof that teenagers were a selfish, ungrateful pain in the ass even back in prehistoric days.
The Croods tells the story of our eponymous prehistoric family living in fear of their lives in a world that is about to end. They follow certain rules which have kept them alive upheld by terrified father Grug (Nicholas Cage). Never don't be afraid. New is Bad. Never be Curious. Unsurprisingly they are not 'living' very much. Just alive. Curious eldest daughter Eep (Emma Stone) hasn't yet been defeated by this and her sense of curiosity leads her to something so new it changes the world of the family forever, just as the world itself is falling around them.
Father and daughter relationships are tricky aren't they? Even in this prehistoric world things between Grug and daughter Eep are strained. He wants to protect her, she wants to go out and see the world. These opposing desires of curiosity and curtailment, old and new are at the heart of this film. The imaginatively titled Guy with his fire and 'ideas' threatens everything Grug has worked for and thinks he needs to survive. It's a nice way to create conflict in a world where pretty much every day would be the same (until the world ended that is). There are some really nice moments in the script, the first ever family road trip plays on the usual problems encountered on long journeys and the attraction between Eep and Guy is played out well. DreamWorks usually have less sickly sugar coated messages than Disney and this is no different, the message is there and clear – family are important but it's not ramming it down your throat. There are a few lame mother in law jokes but what it lacks in hilarity it more than makes up for with heart. I have to admit that even I shed some tears a couple of times at the father daughter moments. Damn you DreamWorks.
Cage has done a great job voicing Grug. The slightly goofy drawl suits the character well, but the whole voice cast are excellent. Catherine Keener is awesome as the voice of reason mom Ugga and Clark Duke also deserves a special mention as dimly lit bulb Thunk, one of my favourite characters. My one gripe is that I find Ryan Reynolds slightly 'meh' as an actor and found him slightly 'meh' in the role of new guy 'Guy' too. Sorry Ryan. There's only room for one acting Ryan in my life (See Beyond The Pines review if unclear).
The animation is, of course, beautiful. We would expect nothing less from DreamWorks but even this is pretty breathtaking in places. In fact I think it is the only time I have EVER seen a movie and thought, I wish I had seen this in 3D. Yep. You heard it right. Think it would actually add to the movie. I'm not going to see it in 3D, once is enough, but it would be good. Anyway, it's pretty clear now that these studios have REALLY nailed hair. They know it, we know it. They do good hair. I think Brave was made just to show off hair. It's like the Vidal Sassoon of Pixar. I can't see any other reason that that movie was made to be honest, I still need to sit down and fan myself when I remember that it beat Frankenweenie to the Oscar.
There is a lot to like about the animation style, they've made The Croods just about as raw as can be for a family film. Buck teeth, bandy legs, on all fours etc but obviously they are still, like, TOTALLY cute. It's refreshing that the young female role model isn't stick thin, there's even a line when Guy tries to pick Eep up and say she is heavy to which she replies 'thank you'!
The Croods may not have the humour of Madagascar or the longevity of say, Wall-E or Finding Nemo but it certainly delighted the cinema of under 10s I watched it with and my hyperactive toddler. What's not to like?