Sunday, February 02, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—The Croods (2013) ***

PG, 98 min.
Directors: Kirk DeMiccio, Chris Sanders
Writers: Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMiccio, John Cleese
Voices: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Chris Sanders, Randy Thom

“The Croods” is one of the many animated films this year that has given me pause about the future of the format. I liked the movie, but like so many of this year’s animated releases, it lacks much of the creativity and broad appeal that has driven the format over the past two decades.

“The Croods” is a family comedy about a family of cavemen. The Croods are survivors in a world that is ending. They don’t know it yet, but their prehistoric world is changing. The continents are forming, and great change is coming. In order to survive this period of change, the Croods themselves must. This is not an easy task for them, especially the father (voiced by Nic Cage), who has kept his family alive much longer than most with his notions that change is bad and fear is good.

The daughter, Eep (voiced by Emma Stone), meets another person, who doesn’t appear to have a tribe and is convinced that in order to survive the physical change occurring to the world they must travel to the mountains. This would require the Croods to leave their cave, which is where they hide from everything most of the time. This appeals to Eep greatly, for she is so very bored of the cave.

Like I said, there’s nothing really wrong with this movie. It’s nice and sweet and has a great message of family values. But, for the most part, it’s a safe family movie that never really pushes the bounds of the genre. Where are the “Wall-E” and “Up” movies that really challenged family audiences to think about what they were watching?

One unique aspect to this film was the fact that although this is apparently supposed to be a prehistoric world much like the one of Earth’s past, it appears to take place in a fantasy version of that past. The creatures and plantlife encountered by the Croods are unique unto themselves. Some bear some resemblance to prehistoric creatures we’ve come to know and discover, but most are born out of the pure imagination of the artists assembled to render this CGI world. It give s the movie a freer spirit than other animated films today that seem assembled in order to recreate the world so accurately as to forget that they are animated.

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