The Croods (Frank’s Take) (film review).

Generations have grown up with one of television’s most beloved prehistoric families in ‘The Flintstones’. Well, there is no harm in making room in your heart for another familial unit from that era whose delightful dysfunction feels quite winning. In the cleverly devised caveman comedy, ‘The Croods’, audiences will embrace the quirky antics of these cave-dwelling characters with noted aplomb. So yes…the kooky-minded Croods can be just as refreshing as the aforementioned Bedrock bunch we grew up watching on the boob tube.

Co-directors/co-writers Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco have carved out a radiantly spry and colorfully resourceful animated comedy that contains solid off-kilter characters, viable jokes, sight gags and a heartwarming message about fear and facing uncertainty in an unpredictable surrounding world. ‘The Croods’ spouts a noteworthy cautionary tale that both the kiddies and their grown-up counterparts need to heed with noted acknowledgement.

The prehistoric paranoid family that slays together also stays together!
The prehistoric paranoid family that slays together also stays together!

Anyhow, ‘The Croods’ is armed with a quaint style of storytelling that is refreshingly engaging. Visually arresting in its 3-D allure, the Sanders/De Micco narrative is a playful metaphor for evolvement as it pits its Stone Age clan at an early time when the world is developing as a global civilisation. For the closeted Croods that must indeed be a frightening thought especially when the circumstances dictate that they face the unknown.

The centerpiece for observation regarding ‘The Croods’ is upon the shoulders of teenage cavegirl daughter Eap (Emma Stone, ‘The Help’). Eap is forced to endure the cantankerous nature of her dimwitted and overly cautious father Grug (Nicholas Cage). By all accounts the flustered Grug is a walking Nervous Nellie of a Neanderthal. The resentment that Eap has for dear old dad and his rules are tweaking her nerves.

In short, Grug is close-minded and his doomsday view of the world around him is unshakable. There may be a cause for his concerns as the Croods appear to be the only cave family still existing in these parts. So maybe Grug’s worrywart routine has some merit after all? Still, Eap cannot fathom her father’s constant paranoia any longer as Grug insists that change is not beneficial for his loved ones in the long run.

Among Eap’s other family members include mother Ugga (Catherine Keener), brother Thunk (Clark Duke from TV’s ‘The Office’), baby sister Sandy and acid-tongued grandmother Gran (Cloris Leachman). Loyally, the rest of the family dutifully follow Grug’s panic-stricken philosophies about fearing the worst in what they do not know about the region outside of their cozy cave setting. Eap has a spirit that is adventurous and certainly clashes with the brainwashed views of her worrisome relatives.

Thankfully, Eap happens to meet an engaging young man named Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) and his pet sloth Belt. Guy seems like a free-spirit and shares Eap’s outlook for curiosity as they both look ‘to seeing the light’ at a promising destination with the notion that the world is soon coming to an end. Guy is a breath of fresh air for Eap but she cannot venture out with him and must return to her cave with the rest of her sheltered kin folks.

Unfortunately for the Croods, a freakish landslide destroys their cave and the family is left homeless. Thus, Grug has no choice but to roam outside of his safe zone and explore a foreign surrounding with scathing skepticism. Soon, Eap reunites with Guy (talking about a rock pile version of ‘Romeo And Juliet’) and cement their relationship.

Predictably, there are scary moments for the Croods to confront in the form of cringing critters that range from over-sized fanged exotic cats to mangy birds with razor-sharp choppers. As if facing the outside elements were not burdensome enough for the family, the strife among the group is starting to rear its ugly head. Grug and Guy both clash over who should lead the pack on the road to nowhere. The strained difference of opinion between dad and daughter still surfaces to the top as a meek Ugga haplessly looks on. Gran is more irritable and opinionated than ever.

The primitive proceedings in ‘The Croods’ are resourcefully cosy and sophisticated in its road trip slapstick, cheeky guffaws, gentle schmaltz and digital impishness. Sure, Grug Crood no doubt is the latest lovable loudmouth to enjoy a heavy toy marketing merchandise campaign…and why not? After all, one cannot resist the Chicken Little mentality in this frumpy family man’s fidgety body.

The Croods (2013)

20th Century Fox

1 hr. 38 mins.

Starring the voices of: Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke and Randy Thom

Directed by: Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco

MPAA Rating: PG

Genre: Animation/Comedy/Family Entertainment

Critic’s rating: *** stars (out of 4 stars)


Frank Ochieng has contributed film reviews to SF Crowsnest off and on since 2003. He has been published in other various movie site venues throughout the years. Ochieng has been part of The Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and had written film reviews for The Boston Banner newspaper (USA) and frequently is a media/entertainment panelist on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 AM on "The Jordan Rich Show" in Boston, Massachusetts/USA.

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