The Croods


by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

History has a way of bringing  the wonder out of people. And not just any history: ancient history.  Maybe it is because we, as humans, like to have a firm grasp on life  and our existence, and not knowing something provides uncertainty. Or  maybe it is just a fascination regarding the way things were and wanting  to put the pieces back together so we can, in some sense, experience  what it was like for others so long ago. But what was it really like  for the people before current man, for the cavemen? Dreamworks brings  to the big screen, The Croods, giving us a look into the life  of a cavefamily (probably not very accurate) as only animation can do.

The Croods are a family  of six who has, up until now, outlived their “neighbors” by following  by one simple rule: fear everything. They are in before the sunsets  each day. Father Grug (Nicholas Cage) keeps them in a state of constant  fear because that’s safe, but teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone) wants  to go out exploring. One night, she sees light coming into the cave  and decides to go explore, eventually coming upon a teenage boy named  Guy (Ryan Reynolds). Guy introduces her to fire and tells her he’s heading  to the mountains as something is coming and the ground is going to shake  and split open, and they need to get away.

Later, after  Grug finds out she’s left the cave, Eep tells him she met someone and  that they need to leave as something bad is coming. No sooner does she  speak the story before the earth begins to shake and their cave is destroyed.  Now the displaced Croods must journey to find a new home, while Grug  can’t stand taking a backseat to a boy on this journey.

After how  many Ice Age movies  (most not very funny, if I may add), it’s nice to have something fresh  when it comes to prehistoric life. The Croods definitely  fits that bill and provides new life so many thousands of years in the  future. It would have been very easy for the writers to make this story  full of jokes and cliché, but instead it is taken a little more serious.  This is their life that they are dealing with, this is survival, it  isn’t a joke. And by taking this course of storytelling, the film becomes  more realistic and meaningful to the audience.

It’s typical,  at least for decent animated films, for there to be some life lessons  to be taken away from the film. The Croods is no exception.  Not only is the conflict between the Croods and the outside world (predators,  earthquakes, the continent changing), but there are also internal conflicts  as well. How does the family make the choice to abandon the patriarch’s  leadership after all these years and follow a boy they just met? How  does a father, who has protected his family his entire life, come to  terms with the fact that he’s no longer able to protect them as he’s  now in a world unfamiliar to him? Is there a way to mend a rocky relationship  between a father and his teenage daughter when they’ve never really  expressed love? So much of what happens between the characters are things  that we can relate to on some level, and that makes it more personal  and garners our investment into the characters.

The Croods in a good  film, filled with character growth and looking at the bonds of family,  but it isn’t quite on the level of classics such as Toy Story, Up, Wall-E, Monster’s  Inc, etc. There’s  just something that doesn’t quite move it up to the level of the greats.  Maybe it’s just the overall plot of escaping an oncoming catastrophe  (being as the catastrophe doesn’t have a face or name, it’s hard to  envision it as a protagonist). But the film has enough warmth and humanity  to make it worthwhile and worth watching. There’s also the matter of  being able to take something away from this experience deeper than ninety-eight  minutes of entertainment, and that, in itself, is worth the price of  admission.

Rating: 3.5  out of 5 stars

    One Comment

  1. JennyBMarch 25th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    You mention “but it isn’t quite on the level of classics such as Toy Story, Up, Wall-E, Monster’s Inc, etc.” Well, those are all Pixar movies. Dreamworks comes NOWHERE close to quality like Pixar does. Pixar is able to pull at the heartstrings more than Dreamworks ever has (take the first 15-20 minutes of “Up” for instance…gawd, I cried like a baby). Their characters are often more relate-able (in my opinion, just saying).

    Albeit, I’ll wait for video for this one…just cause I know what to expect from Dreamworks.

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