The Croods is a cute, fun animation film that doesn’t offer big surprises, but entertains in an easygoing way. Beautifully rendered by Dreamworks Animation (the guys who made Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to train your Dragon), the film has an endearing old-fashioned visual style, vibrant enough to be dug by those who complain about the lack of originality found in big animated films.
Emma Stone lends her voice for the protagonist, a teenage cave-girl named Eep, a stubborn and adventurous kid whose taste for gallivanting is a horror for her over-protective dad Grug (Nicolas Cage). The father knows the dangers outside the cave and would rather keep Eep safe in a dark hole. Things take a turn when an earthquake causes a landslide and the family is forced to leave their rocky cave and search for a new home in the big, bad world. The plot may seem a little too preachy or too simplistic -- a parallel for modern life, even most of the characters are the stock American stereotypes, like the long-suffering mother and the grouchy grandmother. Still, it is difficult not to be won over by the sweet earnestness of the film and it helps that the protagonist is extremely likable.
The Ice Age movies lost their charm after the first one due to sheer lack of humour but The Croods, which is also set in a prehistoric era, has a great set of jokes. The chuckles begin when the patriarch declares his motto to ‘never not be afraid’. The story could easily have fallen into the trap of sitcom level sight gags but directors Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco make the characters’ situation serious enough to make us care about them. In one scene the girl ridicules her father for confusing ‘living’ with ‘not dying’, it’s a rare thing to see some depth in a film clearly targeted towards kids. There is nothing revolutionary about The Croods but it’s hard to dislike even by adults - it will probably be a bit more enjoyable on DVD with your family, but since it is out in theatres you should watch it, in bright colorful 2D.
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