Surviving in a volcanic world is tough enough, but caveman Grug (Cage) gets a rude awakening when an earthquake forces him to leave behind the only world he knows. With his family in tow, he ventures out into the volatile world in search of a new home. The situation becomes even more complicated when Grug's family - but in particular his eldest daughter - become smitten with a nomad (Reynolds) they encounter on their dangerous journey. This quirky, imaginative stranger's search for 'tomorrow' is at odds with Grug's reliance on the traditions of yesterday. (MovieWeb.com)
DreamWorks Animation has been rivaling the excellent work Pixar has been creating for a few years now. But with the studio's latest vehicle, the rather unassuming caveman adventure The Croods, they've really outdone themselves.
When I first saw the trailer for The Croods, I can't say it seemed all that appealing. A family of cavemen? However, from the start, the film offers a lighthearted and adventurous feel that is complemented by absolutely stellar animation and imaginative creatures that supports the wonderment that the characters experience. The story has elements that may remind viewers of films like Finding Nemo, Tangled or Ice Age, but DreamWorks does a wonderful job giving the world of The Croods its own unique design to stand alone.
The story revolves around a prehistoric family who have lived their lives in fear of the world and predators around them in order to survive. However, the family's daughter Eep has grown fully discontented with this lifestyle and longs for more. One night, when light pours into their dark cave from outside, Eep ventures out to investigate, only to meet a boy named Guy who wields a mysterious new light source called... fire. Guy brings with him news that the world as they know it is ending, and when Eep tries to tell her family about Guy's warning, her father Grug refuses to listen. But once a sudden earthquake destroys their cave home, the Croods are sent on a journey to find a new home, encountering all kinda of fantastic creatures and new environments along the way.
The prehistoric elements, coupled with the monsters and beasts they encounter, bring to mind such classic exploratory films from the 50s, 60s and 70s. But with today's animation technology, and some genuinely funny moments in the script, The Croods does this genre almost perfectly. The creatures created for The Croods are inventive and fun, with brilliant colors and unique blends of familiar animals (like parakeets and piranha as piranhakeets -- or turkey fish) to create something surreal and new. Alan Silvestri's score has almost a 70s vibe to it, too, aiding in that throwback feel that the tone of the movie also carries. Thematically, there's a heavy importance placed on family, sticking together, and loving each other. Grug has an intense sense of responsibility in keeping his family safe and together (although he wouldn't mind his mother-in-law, Gran, not making it), and despite all of the silliness and antics from the characters, the familial bond is particularly strong. Eep becomes the catalyst for the Croods' world changing dramatically, and when the going gets tough, the deep love she has for her family wins in the end. It makes for some heartwarming moments near the finale that may be a little corny, but it helps drive home an important pro-family theme.
Anyone who might look at a movie like The Croods and be tempted to write off the film as another Hollywood attmept to shove evolution down the throats of young people will be surprised to hear that there's acutally nothing about evolution or even New Age spiritualism in the film. The story really keeps to the center of the Croods and their relationships with each other. A lot of the story has a lot to do with fear and using fear to survive. This actually grounds the story in an ironic sense of realism (or maybe more like surrealism?), despite the fantastical world they exist in. While this is a cartoon and there's loads of slapstick humor, there's this down-to-earth nature to the story because of how stripped to the basics the characters are presented. In other words, if you eliminated stuff like "girelephants" and "liyotes" and wildly dangerous plants from the story, you'd have an animated take on a family with realistic struggles and emotions at its core. For example, Eep's curiosity pushes her out of her stoney nest and into "life" that the Croods had really not yet begun to lead. And with Grug having witnessed so many other families get killed by venturing out of their caves and into the wild, he was determined to protect his family at any cost. It's noble, but it also kept his three children, wife and mother-in-law from living a fuller life. As the story progresses and we're spending time with these lovable characters, parents can relate to the desperation Grug feels in wanting to keep his family safe, while younger folks can relate to Eep's desire to explore the world outside the walls that enclose her.
The content of The Croods is definitely of the PG variety. Violence is almost non-stop in some form, albeit usually comedically via slapstick. The family members are constantly smacking each other around playfully, and they're also often being chased by large lion-like or saber-toothed prehistoric beasts. At one point, we see a large bird they captured presented as a roasted turkey with the Croods viciously ravaging the roasted animal carcass like dogs. It's meant to be funny, but it's probably not the kind of behavior you'll want your impressionable little one to be emulating (like the constant smacking around between the siblings and such). The language is mostly clean, save for Grug using the word "sucky" at one point, and the movie isn't super scary, but some of the large predator animals (like the ones mentioned earlier in this paragraph) could intimidate some of the younger viewers. You'll also notice that the story has no "villain" outside of some of the same kind of predators that pop up throughout the movie.
With almost every entry from DreamWorks Animation, I'm finding my appreciation for modern animated films getting tipped more in their favor. The Croods is a great surprise and an utter delight - visually and thematically. It's fun, memorable, expertly executed and wonderfully entertaining-- and it just might pull on your heartstrings along the way.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 10/2/13)
The Croodaceous Creatures of Croods (6:12) is an interactive menu, with an intro from Eep and Thunk, that gives you a selection of creatures from the movie with the two siblings talking about each one. And, in most cases, there are clips from the movie that involve each one. The animals are: Bear Owl, Piranhakeet, Belt, Liyote, Punch Monkey, Turtle Dove, Turkey Fish, Girelephant, and Sharkodile (the last of which didn't seem to appear in the movie at all??). There's also a nice Play All option so you don't have to return to the menu for each one.
Belt's Cave Journal (6:15) is an animated short that features the voice of Guy narrating a story that involves him and Belt trying to reunite a "jackrobat" with its family. The animation style is very sketchy, almost like cave drawings, but it's a cute bonus feature here.
Croods' Cuts (Lost Scenes) (8:20) - There are 4 deleted scenes with introductions from the film's two directors. The first scene, "Crazy Grug" takes place after their cave was destroyed and Grug panics and starts to try to rebuild it. The directors reveal here that Cage improvised a lot of his lines. "It's Rain" features the family running from a rain storm and hiding in a shell. "It's a Great Cave" is the only finished piece of animation here (the rest are storyboards) and it just includes one or two lines of added dialog to a scene early on in the movie. Finally, "Termites" sees the family encountering termites while on their journey, with a swarm of them attacking Thunk.
Be An Artist! (35:16) features Supervising Animator Sean Sexton as he teaches that viewers how to draw Belt, a "Macawnivore" and a "Mousephant"
The standard Theatrical Trailer (2:11) and Sneak Peek (trailers and previews for other home video releases) round out the extras. Sadly, there's mysteriously no featurette about the cast or even an overall featurette about the film's development, which is quite disappointing.
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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