Thursday, December 19, 2013

Movie with Abe: The Croods

The Croods
Directed by Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders
Released March 22, 2013 / October 1, 2013

Cavemen can be a tricky subject matter. It can serve as good inspiration for comedy, as in “History of the World: Part 1.” Yet it can also become stale and unbearable if taken too far, as was the case with the brilliant idea of expanding a 30-second GEICO commercial featuring cavemen into a TV series that very quickly failed. One of this year’s biggest animated movies, “The Croods,” doesn’t belong to either category, best described as a well-intentioned but relatively uninteresting family-friendly farce.

“The Croods” opens with its narrator, Eep, voiced by Emma Stone, explaining her life as one of a family of cavemen. The opening sequence is actually quite creative and interesting, utilizing terrific visuals to illustrate the longevity of her family and their ability to survive while so many of their cavemen friends perished due to disease or, in most cases, being eaten by large animals. After that, however, it becomes a standard animated film, strong in its design elements but otherwise unremarkable. The notion of literally living in a cave becomes fodder for the film’s message about thinking outside the box and trying new things, a finish line which can be distinctly perceived and predicted from the start.

There are only so many jokes that can be made about living under a rock and not being open to any kind of change. Patriarch Grug, voiced by Nicolas Cage, constantly trumpets his view of the world, and it’s hardly surprising that Eep becomes curious about what else is out there. When she meets Guy, who is considerably more advanced and knowledgeable about what exists in the world, that only increases, and, predictably, his presence and everything he stands for is an affront to Grug and his protective instincts. Cue the familiar road to enlightenment, with plenty of caveman jokes mixed in.

“The Croods” tells a classic story through a new lens, and it’s far from the worst cinematic representation of the Neanderthal. Stone and Cage provide great voices for their characters, and Ryan Reynolds and Cloris Leachman are well-cast as Guy and, who else, the wise-cracking grandmother, respectively. Children will surely enjoy this film, which employs simplistic humor mixed with the occasional reference that only mature viewers will catch. This is not the kind of animated film that will prove satisfying to viewers of all ages, but it’s still a decent ride.


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