Apparently, I have an incurable prejudice against a certain type of animated film. Time and time again I am proven wrong, but it has still taken me this long to finally see The Croods. Movies like Megamind, Madagascar 1, 2 and 3, and Kung Fu Panda 1 and 2 were all initially dismissed (though I can hardly be blamed for the last one – honestly, Jack Black as a kung fu fighting Panda? Anyone would be suspicious). None of them are without faults, but all of them provide a good time, surprising depth, and above all clear evidence that a lot of love went into them.
Despite being wrong so often, I wasn’t excited at all to see The Croods, but then it popped up on Netflix on a Sunday night, and I am glad it did.
The story does have a few clichés. Overbearing fathers, wild daughters, a journey of discovery. On the surface it looks a bit like a cross between Ice Age and Hotel Transylvania. There is a family of cave dwellers, living under the strict rules of the father, Grug. The daughter, Eep, is a wild spirit, and wants to explore the world. She meets Guy, who I think is suppose to be a homo sapiens as opposed to their more neanderthalian looks, but it’s obviously never stated. He tells her the world is ending, and when their cave is destroyed by an earthquake, they have to venture out into the unknown.
Like I said, there are a lot of clichés in the plot, and some of the characterization, but if you’re relatively young and/or like these clichés, I think the film manages to do them on its own terms enough to entertain. The overbearing father is actually funny, especially considering it’s Nicolas Cage doing the voice. He actually disappears into the character really well, and I soon forgot it was him at all. Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds also do an excellent job as Ep and Guy respectively, though I think Reynolds could have done better on the emotional bits.
The whole cast of characters is really funny, and some of the jokes had me in stitches so long I missed the next one. The people all talk in a modern vernacular, but they don’t use modern terms, so it creates a very amusing contrast to the way they move, which is more like gorillas. They can go from crazy apes to the Griswolds on vacation in two seconds flat – though maybe that’s not that far of a stretch. The emotional bits might not go over well with everyone. I found those part to be predictable pit stops on the way to more humour.
The real star of the show is the animation. I was shocked at how interesting these characters looked, especially when the poster made them look sort of animated Flintstone-ish. But the world around them is the big “wow” moment. It’s beautiful and creative, and sometimes a little Avatar-like, but because it’s animated, they can go even further. Take the land-whales, or the flying turtles, or my favourite the crocodile dog. It looks like the animators were given absolute free reign.
The Croods is definitely going on my list of misunderstood animation. It’s nothing new in terms of story or characters, but the care taken with them, and the world they inhabit make for a fun and beautiful film. If you’re going to see an animated road-trip/family feud movie, put this one of the top of the list.
Dice roll: 4