Dir: Kirk De Micco,Chris Sanders
The Croods is a big budget animated film with an interesting premise in search of a story.It gives us a sequence after sequence of a cave-dweller family coming to terms with a a very fast changing world that challenges any notions of mortality that we may have about our homo-sapien forefathers.But then its an animated film and death proofness shall not be held against them. Heck! its not the case for any Die Hard film, so a bunch of animated characters have all the right to survive rough landings from zillion foot high cliffs.And since the primary audience for this latest Dreamwork’s “ product” is likely to be children accompanied by guilt ridden parents it can be safely assumed that all the cute slapstick action will hit home with its core tiny-tot audience.
As the cave painting inspired credits roll we are introduced via voiceover to the The Crood family led by a brawny father named Grug, who guards his flock with a fierce adherence to the laws of survival he has learned the hard way.It involves as less interaction with the outside world as possible, which means spending much time in a claustrophobic cave and killing all notions of curiosity, which killed not just the cat but most of his brethren. This goes against the nature of his vivacious daughter Eep who craves to see what lies outside the cave.The premise is as old as the hills and the Neanderthal man.Soon enough her wishes are answered and they find themselves catapulted into a world very different from the one they knew and they must survive and make up new rules along the way.As it turns out the only new rule they need, is that there are no rules, and they must use a part of the body they haven’t paid much attention to thus far – namely the brain.Grug says he doesn’t need brains and flexes his muscles to illustrate his hair brained point.
His foil in the new psychedelic, dangerous and seductively beautiful world is Guy, who is a young chap with the gumption of Tom Sawyyer and Huck Finn rolled into one, the type that young girls that cant help but fall in love with.Guy and his success in saving their fur covered behinds on countless occasions makes Grug jealous and insecure as the gang stumbles from one deadly animal attack to another.They will discover fire, grey matter and importantly shoes in the process.The cry of ecstasy that Eep lets out when she first wears a pair of boots tells us that in the very distant future a certain Mr Jimmy Choo will become a billionaire and male-kind’s nemesis.The Croods examines its characters with the same nonchalance that Grug makes drawings on caves to illustrate his “put you head in a hole in the ground theories” and undoubtedly his doodles will not make art loves swoon like they do over the Bulls in the Altamira caves in Spain.The film limits itself to following the escapades of grumpy father, cutie pie daughter and cocky wise Guy at the expanse of the rest of the family and creates only unpredictable nature as the adversary.
The Croods is full of slapstick comedy and has none of the dialogues and word play that will amuse the accompanying adults.It has no story and little character development, not to speak of a background score that could have lifted the film up, when it threatens to sag under the weight of its animation showiness.Small children will love its a gag a minute format but older children, I suspect, will see through its severe limitations.The film has a star cast of big names doing voiceovers but I found none of the distinctiveness of Nicholas Cage in the voice of Grug. The animators do a competent job and the 3D effects are half decent in some sequences which makes the film intermittently bearable.
Built into this film is the somewhat tenuous message that not listening to parents can be rewarding and that parents tend to be somewhat behind the curve.While a sense of adventure and inventiveness is a invaluable lesson children need to learn, this film delivers it in a way that very young children can easily misconstrue.Ultimately from the perspective of a 5 year olds father, kids can watch Tom and Jerry at home on Cartoon Network and the economics of visiting the multiplex for The Croods just does not work out, if you build in the cost of the popcorn and soda and over three hours of time. I walked out feeling suckered by the marketing wizards behind The Croods. The characters here are sometimes cute but the film itself is mostly crude. Be selfish, let your kids sit this one out.