Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family
Directed by: Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone
The Croods was an idea first brought to Hollywood’s attention by a little known writer called John Cleese. This was obviously many years ago and, since Cleese’s initial idea, the story has transformed. Directed by one of the guy’s behind How to Train Your Dragon, one of DreamWorks best productions, The Croods has turned out to be an entertaining tale that hits high notes in many places but sadly at the same time manages to bring in levels of tedium that present this film as merely average compared to some of DreamWorks other films.
Opening with a family of cavemen hunting for small portions of food, The Croods takes us on a journey with said family as they hunt for a new world when theirs is threatened with extinction. Father of the family, Grug (Nicolas Cage), is the one thing that has kept this family alive over the years. His precaution towards safety has them in a very strict routine that other cavemen families failed to adhere to. Despite his paranoia keeping them alive, his daughter Eep (Stone) believes that they aren’t living their lives properly and begins to break her father’s well set rules by sneaking out of their cave in the middle of the night and meeting Guy (Reynolds), a human being who is following the sun to a place where he will avoid the destructive earthquakes that are soon to hit.
After hearing of their world’s impending doom, Eep attempts to convince her father that they must move fast but it isn’t until their cave is destroyed during an earthquake that Grug finally accepts he must move his family. Eep leads her family, much to Grug’s annoyance, to Guy who promises them that they will be safe if they follow the sun to ‘tomorrow’, a place hidden behind the mountains.
The idea for The Croods is rather unique and it’s a story that can only be told via animation. There’s no way this film could have been captured in the same way had it been a real-life production. Each animal featured was a cross of three different contemporary animals. They weren’t hybrids but rather what animals were like before evolutionary change. For instance, there are flying mammals with tortoise shells or sabre-tooth cats that look like kittens but are in fact giant. The design was simply incredible, much in the way How to Train Your Dragon was. This seems to be a visual trait for director Chris Sanders and The Croods really lent itself to his style.
The production design may be great but it doesn’t paper over the issues within this film. The initially funny jokes seem to dry up and arguments between the group are tediously repeated. It ends up making for a long journey feeling achingly long in terms of screen time, something that shouldn’t happen with animation films. In terms of plot, it runs fairly thin and this will be an issue for the adult audience; childish gags won’t keep mums and dads interested. Having said that there are some funny jokes, many of which come from the character Guy who attempts to teach his family about the items that we call ‘everyday’, such as shoes, belts and fire.
The voice cast do a good job, though they don’t shine quite as much as you want them to. Emma Stone and Clark Duke probably provide the best voices, and characters, whereas Catherine Keener’s character isn’t really brought to life enough. Reynolds and Cage, although adequate in their portrayal, fall into the trap where their character sounds too much like the actor themselves.
This is a decent film, one that you’ll enjoy to watch and be amazed at the beautiful colour palette on show. Remember how you felt when Hiccup stepped out of his bed to find his leg missing? Well there are no such moments here. A solid attempt at creating a great movie; sadly it doesn’t live up to the hype.