The Croods is the latest work from Dreamworks Animation. The film is co-directed by Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders and stars Emma Stone, Nicholas Cage, and Ryan Reynolds as, respectively, Eep (the daughter), Grug (the father), and Guy (the brainy new guy on the rock).
Set in the prehistoric past, the film follows the Croods, a family of cave-dwelling humans who are taught by the father of the family to “Never not be afraid!”. Every night, he locks them in a cave by closing it from the inside with a giant boulder. Eep, being a teenager, feels cooped up and she loves to escape every time she can to go exploring.
One night, after sneaking out, she meets Guy, an ingenious and more advanced homo sapiens who has discovered fire. He warns of impending doom, which happens the following day and destroys the Crood family cave. Guy convinces the family to follow him to higher ground to get away from the growing earthquakes and encroaching lava.
I really enjoyed this film. It was a good, solid exploration adventure which simultaneously delved into intra-family relationships and learning to expand one’s horizons beyond what you know (especially when what you “know” isn’t exactly correct). It has a few good lessons without beating you over the head with them.
The animation is spectacular and colorful; Dreamworks has definitely improved over the years (and they were quite good to start with). The detail and movement in the hair and fur is almost hyper-realistic. The variety and uniqueness of the creatures was great. The interpretations of known ancient species as well as completely made-up creatures were very colorful and well executed (I really enjoyed “Belt”). The facial expressions are spot-on as well. I think the tools for 3D animation are reaching the point where they allow the artists more freedom than ever, approaching and even surpassing traditional animation in many ways. This film is an excellent example of this.
The plot was tight, though pretty standard, and the movie doesn’t really have any new twist on the journey. Action moved along at a good pace, with appropriate “rest periods” to make the action all the better. The humor appealed to all ages, truly making this a film the whole family can enjoy. Alan Silvestri did a good job on the score, and the music really enhanced the quality of the film.
I highly recommend The Croods to everyone. John Cleese (one of the writers) still has his touch, and I will be adding it to my collection for sure!
Release Date: March 22, 2013 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Violence: 2 (some comic violence and scary moments)