(First off, an apology for my blogging absence this past week. Between a big paper for my college English class and an overload of work, I’ve had no spare time. But I’m back, and will be blogging more now that thing’s have relaxed a bit.)
I’m going to be honest in saying I had little expectation for this movie when I went to see it today. The previews made it look immature and boring, and while I thought the animation was pretty, there wasn’t much that really caught my eye. However, after seeing it with my family, I can say it’s a much better movie than it was made out to be, even if it misses an opportunity to be great.
The Croods follows a family of cavemen who are the last of their kind. After all their neighbors are killed by the world’s primitive, violent creatures (no dinosaurs sadly, just colorful animal hybrid things), Grug, the father, keeps his family inside their cave almost every day, all day, in order to keep everyone safe.
However, as you probably guessed, things don’t stay like that. Eep, the headstrong daughter, is sick of ‘not dying’, rather than ‘living’, and out of curiosity, runs into a guy named, well, Guy. What follows next is a family-fun romp of an adventure that packs more charm and wit than any animated film this year.
While the basic story is overly simplistic, The Croods really shines in its characters. Eep is a great character, and while she fits the rebellious teenager caricature to a tee, she’s imbued with a sense of wonder and naivety at the new world she discovers that enlivens her character a lot. Especially fun are her attempts at wooing Guy, which are some of the funnier scenes of the movie. And thanks to Emma Stone’s awesome performance, Eep is given more life than she probably would’ve had if someone else voiced her.
The same can be said for both Nicolas Cage and Ryan Reynolds, who play Grug and Guy respectively. Cage is better as Grug than he’s been in a lot of his more recent roles, and gives the conflicted father character a nice layer of both brash conformity to the way things have been, and a subtle acceptance of the way things are now.
Even Ryan Reynolds, who is either great or forgettable in his roles, performs really well as Guy. He acts as a bridge between the at-times excessive cavemen characteristics of the Croods and the more sophisticated mindset of someone who’s already adapted to a new world.
While I love the three main characters for their witty line delivery and colorful personalities, especially Grug’s relationship with his mother-in-law, which acts as a great running joke for the entirety of the film, the rest of the family are mostly fill-ins for caricatures. While they have their moments, most of their screen-time is used for jokes or backstory.
Speaking of jokes, The Croods, as a family animated flick, has plenty of them. And, guess what, they don’t suck. While some of the them do fall a little flat, the majority of them are witty and entertaining, especially when the Crood family first discover some of life’s nicer accessories, like shoes.
And for a Dreamworks movie, which have a habit of pushing it to far with the pop-culture references, The Croods is able to balance physical and verbal humor in a way that will delight kids and entertain adults.
I found myself enjoying The Croods a lot more than I really expected to, but I feel like it missed a chance to be truly great with its ending. It seemed that the whole movie was building up to this somewhat dark, even tragic ending, just to pull a one-eighty and do the complete opposite, opting instead to end the film on a cliched, and honestly, boring note.
Obviously Dreamworks wanted the option to do sequels (which I really don’t think this movie needs), which the preferred ending wouldn’t have really allowed, but I still can’t help but be disappointed by the way the movie missed out on being something great and unique.
Overall though, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. Yes, it ended on a disappointingly predictable note, and its storyline was fairly cookie-cutter, but the characters gave the movie enough heart and wit to make The Croods just a step above your average animated flick.