Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 38 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG for some Scary Action
Directed by: Kirk De Micco & Chris Sanders
Written by: Kirk De Micco & Chris Sanders
Voices of: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman & Clark Duke
There’s a joke waiting to be made about the formula for THE CROODS being as old as the time period in which its set. That would be selling this enjoyable family film short though. It may not be as fantastic as the work DreamWorks Animation has given in the past (CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS or MEGAMIND), but THE CROODS does a solid job by telling a well-worn formula in a new way.
The Croods are a family of cavemen living in an age that’s rife with dangerous creatures and perilous nature. That’s why Grug, the father of the family, has laid down a set of rules that keeps the family alive and safe. These include: staying in the cave, seeing anything new as dangerous, and never not being afraid. While the other members of the family are able to abide by these fun-sucking paranoid rules, Eep (the teenage daughter of the family) is rebellious and wants to live. After running into a nomadic teenage boy, named Guy, disaster strikes and the Croods are left without the cave they once called home. A change is taking place over the Earth (Guy calls it The End) and the family must find it in themselves to break their rules and work together to survive. Grug, used to the old ways and being the head of the family, seems hesitant though.
The age-old story of discovering one’s self, working together, and finding love has been done many times in many different movies. THE CROODS puts a prehistoric spin on it and packs enough whimsy and imagination to make for an interesting time. Adding to this is the cast of familiar voices that blend right into the Cro-Magnon figures. Nicolas Cage is actually compelling as Grug, who is much more of a developed character than just the standard angry father worrying about his daughter. Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds have good chemistry voice wise. The other characters (the middle child, the feral baby, the mother, and the grandmother) aren’t as well-developed as the Eep, Guy, and Grug. Instead of being actual characters, they aren’t given a whole lot to do.
The visuals are pretty stunning and the design of the creatures that give the Crood family trouble are interesting. Some of the jokes themselves have been seen before in better movies, but others wind up being very funny. As far as the pacing itself goes, the movie runs about 90 minutes, if you don’t include the end credits. This was a perfect time length to tell this story. Speaking of which, there are pieces of this movie that have real heart and emotion put into them. This separates this film from the likes of something like MONSTERS UNIVERSITY.
Overall, THE CROODS may not be an outstanding piece of family entertainment, but it is a solid effort that has some actual staying power behind it. It’s not just another kid film and it’s not quite the A-grade family film of 2013 (which we have yet to receive). Give it a look though as it’s an all-around good movie.