The Croods are a Stone Age family, whose very existence is based on fear of… well, everything. When teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone) ventures out in the dark and is told that their world may be ending, by Guy (Ryan Reynolds), the family must battle to survive in a rapidly changing, terrifying new world.
The Croods has gone through several incarnations through the years, and several different writers, but the good news is that touches of John Cleese’s script still seem to be present and the chopping and changing from Aardman animation back to DreamWorks does not seem to have affected the film in a negative way. Of course, we will never really know what Aardman would have done with the story, but the version we have is rather charming.
When it boils down, the story of The Croods is rather simple; teenage daughter rebelling against her father, father learns a thing or two about life from teenage daughter. The good news though, is that there is plenty here to look at and enough laughs to sustain the story.
The voice talent is rather impressive; Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds and Cloris Leachman each bring a little fire to their roles and each manages admirably. Leachman has some of the best lines, but Cage is so over the top Cage-y that it is hard not to enjoy his character. Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds have some sweet moments together, and both have some great dialogue, but this film is really about taking our expectations – and those of the characters – and turning them on their heads.
Visually, The Croods is a treat. The 3D, as always, does not add much to the action, but the animators and story creators have taken what we know about our world and the animal kingdom, and carefully turned it on it’s head. There are land whales, flying turtle birds and two small fluffy creatures who share one tail and are kind of reminiscent of the pushmi-pullyu. As well as being delightfully weird, this manages to throw the audience into as much flux as the central family and, as they learn about their new surroundings, the audience is right there with them.
Writer / Directors Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco have created a fun and visually interesting film that is somehow slightly uneven. As the story progresses, there is more for the adults who will inevitably watch the film – and thankfully the snarling baby is pushed to the background – but this means that there is less for the younger children, who appear to be the target audience. When the emotional pay off finally rolls around, there is still a little comedy for the kids, but this could be the time when they start to get bored, and it will probably be just the moment that the adults get invested. Balancing this is a delicate act and this is where The Croods falls down. Don’t be fooled; this is no Flintstones (the TV show, not the movie), but then they never had to contend with continental drift.
The Croods is a fun, but uneven adventure tale that has plenty for kids and adults alike; just not at the same time. The film is a visual gem, Cloris Leachman and Nicholas Cage easily steal the show, even from a sloth called Belt, and used as one.