I get a little snobby about animated kids films. If it’s not Pixar, I’m usually not all that interested. DreamWorks make okay animated films that are decent enough & a way to switch off for a couple of hours while your kids are entertained. I even find Shrek a little overrated. Shrek isn’t bad but it’s certainly not something I’d ever consider a favorite movie of mine.
Pixar, on the other hand, manage to make what I see as proper “family” films that adults enjoy just as much as the kids do (well, I do at least!). Pixar films don’t treat kids like idiots – they’re not dumbed down for the kids but they’re still completely kid friendly and appropriate for all ages (without humor that’s a little TOO risqué being thrown in here & there to wake up the adults who are bored in the audience – I hate kids films that resort to that in a pathetic & unfunny way). And I think Pixar films are just much more “timeless” (I love that word – I use it a lot). Something like Finding Nemo will be just as loved 30 years from now whereas I don’t see most of the DreamWorks stuff aging as well (in my opinion!). I always take a long time to get to my point… My point is that I’ll review this movie for what it is – a DreamWorks movie aimed at kids. It’s not something I expected to be in the same league as Pixar films like Toy Story. Or even Despicable Me! (See? I can like a non-Pixar! Love that one). 🙂
The Croods is about a family of cavemen (or I suppose cavepeople as there are girls too). As it was a very dangerous time to live in, the father in the movie (voiced by Nicolas Cage) is very overprotective of his family and insists that they never stray far from their cave or leave it at all after dark. (So, he’s Marlin). His teenage daughter (voiced by Emma Stone) is becoming more and more curious about what’s out there in the world but her father won’t let her explore – he believes that curiosity is dangerous (so the daughter is Nemo). I’m sorry – I promise to try to shut up about Pixar but it really is Finding Nemo with ugly cavepeople instead of adorable little fish! 😉
Well, ugly cavepeople except for one – Enter teenage caveboy heart-throb (voiced by Ryan Reynolds). Seriously, he actually IS fairly hot – I think he’s even better looking than his voice actor. Check him out:
So, anyway, teenage cavegirl sees this light one night and leaves the safety of the cave to follow it. Turns out it’s something called fire, which hot caveboy (who is further evolved than the Croods) has discovered. Cavegirl instantly falls for caveboy. CaveDAD, of course, does NOT approve of this boy who has come along and made his daughter want to leave the safety of their cave. Caveboy wants her to join him as he follows the sun to what he thinks will be a safer place because he believes the world is ending.
The story then goes exactly how you’d expect it to. Caveboy eventually earns cavedad’s trust as they make their way on their long journey to a safer land (That’s really not a spoiler to anyone who’s ever watched any movie EVER). And of course cavedad and cavedaughter end up bonding and cavedad learns that it’s important to live your life instead of always being scared & hiding away from everything (Again – not exactly a spoiler. We’ve all seen Finding Nemo!). 😉
In all honesty, though, The Croods isn’t bad & it’s even a bit better than I was expecting. It starts out a little slow and, of course, everything is very drab & colorless when they won’t stray far from their cave. Once they follow hot caveboy, though, they find a lovely green & colorful land filled with all kinds of strange & wonderful creatures. The movie was a lot more fun to watch once this happened.
As for the characters, the main three I mentioned are fine. As with any animated story, you need a main set of characters like these to drive the story along. But, as is very important in animated kids films, you need some fun extra characters to provide the comic relief. The other characters that make up The Croods are:
– The Cavegrandmother (voiced by Cloris Leachman). She’s the mother-in-law to cavedad so you get all your typical “I hate my mother-in-law” type jokes there. She’s fine. She’s crazy, of course. Cloris Leachman always does a great crazy-old-lady (love her as this in the TV show Raising Hope).
– The Cavemother (voiced by Catherine Keener). Not funny or anything – just a typical animated mother-type. Fine but a little boring. The voice of reason when Cavedad is being ridiculous (of course).
– The Cavebrother. Not much to say about him. He’s the most boring of the characters. He’s, of course, extremely dumb.
– The Baby Cavesister. She’s a fairly entertaining character. She’s like a rabid little dog, which is kind of cute.
– Belt. This was my favorite character. He’s a sloth who’s caveboy’s pet (and also acts as his belt, holding caveboy’s pants up). He does a funny little thing a few times in the movie – I won’t give it away (best bit in the movie- not sure if it’s been in trailers anyway). Best character – should have been used slightly more.
Summary: The Croods is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from DreamWorks. It’s not the best animated DreamWorks film but it’s not the worst – it’s probably somewhere in the middle. The kids will be entertained but the adults might lose interest a few times & zone out (I actually had to look up what destroyed their cave because I seemed to space out at that point in the movie – it was suddenly destroyed & I had NO idea why). It’s not gonna change the world. Go to it. Zone out. Eat some popcorn. Laugh at Belt. Be annoyed when sometimes Nicolas Cage sounds a bit too Nicolas Cage-y. 🙂
My Rating: 6/10