Review – The Croods Delivers Pre-Historic Fun for the Whole Family

Posted by at 12:06 am on September 23, 2013

The Croods

“Never Be Afraid” that’s the core nugget of Dreamworks brightly toned tale of a pre-historic families ‘evolutionary journey. Co-directors and co-writers Kirk DeMicco and Arvada native Chris Sanders have given us The Croods, an energetic tale about one cave’s clan’s journey to follow the light.

The film opens with father Grug (voiced by Nicholas Cage) trying to ride herd on his physically powerful, though not over thoughtful family, all of whom follow his rules, the primary one being “never not be afraid”. That is, all except independent teen age daughter Eep (Emma Stone), who relishes new experiences (anything different is like to get bashed by rocks in the families’ “Kill Circle”) and literally leaps at any opportunity to defy the her father’s rules and go her own way.

To add to Eep’s daddy issues with Grug, along comes Guy (Ryan Reynolds). Guy is a handsome young stranger with a monkey to hold up his pants (named Belt of course) and a head that’s chock full of new ideas and dreams. Guy is on a journey to tomorrow, on the run from earthquakes and erupting volcanoes. He introduces Eep and then the other Croods to the wonders of fire, but Grug does not approve. After some Earth shaking destroys the family cave though, Grug is at least willing to admit that the family needs to travel to someplace safer.

The Croods follow Guy on his trip toward tomorrow, learning all sorts of new things along the way like “shoes help you move faster.” Grug still wants his family to find a cave where he can keep them all safe, and along the way he struggles against the admiration the all the other Croods, particularly Eep have for Guy.

Eventually the Croods and Guy face a climactic sequence that takes them to their home and Grug discovers that he might have more power to change than he first thought.

Visually, The Croods is a treat.  The colors are bold and lively with intricately detailed textures and backgrounds. The creators have come up with any number of interesting pre-historic animal characters, none of which seem “too scary” for younger movie goers in the way the more scientifically accurate creatures might be.  During it’s theatrical run the polka-dot elephants were in 3D, but our review is based on the Digital HD 2D version you can buy now. There will be a 3D release on Blu-ray.

The soundtrack has a bright, pulsing world beat type vibe that matches the film’s quick action and springy characters. The closing credits feature an original tune written Demicco, Sanders and film composer Alan Silvestri that is performed by Owl City and Yuna, which nicely carries the upbeat message of the film through to the end.

We thought that The Croods is a great family movie. This is the first innuendo-free animated movie we have seen in a long time. The story has mostly positive messaging; the family works together as a team, Eep at first resents her father but sees in the end that he tries so hard to keep her safe because he loves her and Grug figures out that sometimes change is good and it is okay to “never be afraid”. There is a lot of action, and the vivid candy hued visuals are not too scary for most kids, probably good for those 4 and up. For those parents who are dealing with especially sensitive offspring, there are a couple of suspenseful moments where Grug’s life is endangered, and several very energetic chase scenes with The Croods running for their lives from animals that might eat them or earthly elements that could do them harm.

Adults should be able to survive repeat viewings without going bonkers, which the kids will want to do.  This makes the Croods a good purchase rather than just renting it.

While the core drama of the movie is the familiar tug of war between the dad who’s afraid for his daughter to grow up and the guy who wants to steal her away, the rest of the plot and the stunning visuals are strong enough to keep you from drifting away.  The Croods are funny and it’s a touching movie.  It tells modern people it is good to say “I love you” and it reminds us that being a parent is tough but there are things we can learn from our children and that we should always follow the light.

Rating 4.0

The Croods is available now on Digital HD (Google Play, Amazon Instant Video or iTunes).  Coming to Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and DVD on Oct 1.

It is rated PG (Scary Action) and runs for

 

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