The Croods

In 2013 Film Reviews, Films by David Watson

For rebellious teenager Eep (Emma Stone) caveman life is a bit of a drag.

For rebellious teenager Eep (Emma Stone) caveman life
is a bit of a drag.
It’s all hunting, gathering and
sticking to the boring rules laid down by her over-protective father Grug (Nicolas Cage) whose mantra of “Fear
keeps us alive. Never not be
afraid” has so far kept alive the Crood family; mom Ugga (Catherine Keener), brawny, meat head brother Thunk (Clark Duke), ancient crone Gran (Cloris Leachman) and feral baby sister
Sandy, while all of their neighbours have succumbed to disease, starvation and
predators. Change is bad and
curiosity kills believes Grug but, like any teenager, all Eep wants is her own
space and not to stay cooped up in the family cave all the time. She wants the freedom the Sun represents
to her, climbing the cliff wall of their valley to feel its dying embers as it

Life changes for
Eep when she meets and is smitten by the mysterious Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a nomad who’s harnessed the secret of fire and
whose only friend and companion is the pet sloth he wears as a belt, named
appropriately enough, Belt who has a flair for the dramatic. “Pets are animals who don’t eat you,”
explains Guy. Believing the
apocalyptic End Of The World is coming, Guy and Belt are just passing through
on their way to higher ground where Guy believes he’ll be safe.

When an
earthquake (caused by the splitting of the continents) destroys the family
cave, Grug and the Croods must conquer their fear of the outside world and
follow Eep and Guy on the adventure of a lifetime, braving the jungle beyond
their desert valley and the strange creatures who live there, as they search
for a new home.

The prehistoric
adventures of a modern Stone Age family, there’s very little that’s original or
surprising about The Croods but
there doesn’t have to be. It’s undemanding,
slapstick fun for the whole family with a few good anachronistic gags thrown in
for good measure (the invention of shoes and the snapshot particular
highlights) where the main conflict isn’t with the animals trying to eat them
or the ground tearing itself apart beneath their feet but the familiar battle
between father and teenage daughter.

The animation is
visually stunning and the 3D pleasingly immersive as the sweetly rendered
Neanderthal Croods explore a lush Avatar-like jungle full of fantastical
Maurice Sendak-esque hybrid critters among them giant land-dwelling whales, a
flock of piranha-like birds and possibly prehistory’s cutest predator a giant,
parrot-hued, sabre tooth kitten.
With her wide face, squat body and muscular arms and thighs, the
Neanderthal Eep is a robust, relatable, kick-ass heroine who’s far more
physical and able than the more thoughtful Guy and it’s refreshing that The Croods presents the chunky gal to
its young audience, rather than the usual Disney princess-type, as a positive
female role model.

While Ryan
Reynolds is bland as the dreamy Guy and Catherine Keener and Cloris Leachman
are just stereotypical caring mom and feisty granny respectively, young kids
will love Clark Duke’s oafish Thunk and the ferocious baby Sandy but it’s the
sparring Emma Stone and Nicolas Cage who are the heart of the film, Emma
Stone’s husky tones animating the sweet but headstrong Eep while Nicolas Cage
gives his most restrained, funny and touching performance in years as the
caveman dad out of step with changing times.

While it plays
pretty safe, there’s nothing too scary here for the kids, and it may not be as
evolved as its Pixar competitors, The Croods
is a smart, wildly entertaining kids’ film that at the very least Wrecks Ralph.