Thursday, October 3, 2013

Movie Review: The Croods

The Croods
Directed by: Kirk De Micco & Chris Sanders.
Written by: Chris Sanders & Kirk De Micco and John Cleese.
Starring: Nicolas Cage (Grug), Emma Stone (Eep), Ryan Reynolds (Guy), Catherine Keener (Ugga), Cloris Leachman (Gran), Clark Duke (Thunk), Chris Sanders (Belt), Randy Thom (Sandy).

The best Hollywood animated films are the ones that are able to satisfy kids desire to have fast paced, colorful, funny movies with something buried in their for adults. Pixar manages this trick often – although their batting average is a little lower over the past few years – but no other studio has really been able  to pull off the trick with any sort of consistency. Since its inception with 1998’s Antz, Dreamworks animation has made far more feature films that Pixar (27 to 14) – but far fewer that are able to pull the trick off. From every film that pulls it off – Antz (1998), Chicken Run (2000), Shrek (2001), Wallace and Grommitt: The Curse of the Were Rabbit (2005), Kung Fu Panda (2008), How to Train Your Dragon (2010) or Megamind (2010) – there is a Shrek sequel, or a Madagascar film or a Shark Tale or a Bee Movie or an Over the Hedge (you get the point) that may not be a bad movie, but do leave the audience of adults left wanting a little bit more. Unfortunately, The Croods is more in line with those later films than the earlier ones. It is by no means a bad movie – it held my interest throughout, is amusing at times, and has some wonderful sequences in it – but I couldn’t help by wonder if the filmmakers couldn’t have pushed this a little bit further, and made something better. The kids will – and have – liked the film, and adults aren’t going to annoyed by it (unless their kids play it on repeat) – but that’s about it. In short, it’s a fine film – but a completely forgettable one.

The movie is about the title family – The Croods – who are cavemen who have managed to survive because the patriarch, Grug (Nicolas Cage) hardly ever lets them leave the safety of their cave. But the oldest daughter Eep (Emma Stone) doesn’t just want to survive – she wants to live. She wants to go out and explore, and is becoming frustrated that she’s not allowed to. But events are going to force The Croods to leave their cave – the earth is shaking, the ground is opening up, and lava is flowing. They meet Guy (Ryan Reynolds) – one step up the evolutionary chain from the cavemen – and he says he can help get them to safety. Having no choice, Grug agrees and the family goes on their journey.

There are some wonderful sequences in the movie – the opening hunt perhaps being the best one. The movie doesn’t pretend to be accurate historically – after all, Guy would never exist in a time where the Croods do – so the filmmakers take this inaccuracy a step further and create some creatures that never existed – like the horde of parrots who behave like piranhas. The movie is at its best when the characters are engaged in action, and not in dialogue. The story – about the conflict between the over protective Grug and the more relaxed Guy, and Eep trying to forge her own way in the world – is predictable in the extreme – but hey, it gets the job done.

And that’s about all you can say about The Croods as movie – it gets the job done. It is far from a bad movie – it’s mildly amusing, and well animated with some nice vocal work by Cage, Reynolds and especially Stone. But it's a largely forgettable experience. If you’re an adult forced to watch it with yours kids, you’ll be mildly amused. If you don’t have kids – well, then there’s little reason to see it at all.

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