Genre: CG Animation Director: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders Cast: Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Cloris Leachman Runtime: 1 hr 39 mins Rating: PG Released By: 20th Century Fox Official Website: http://www.thecroodsmovie.com/
Opening Day: 21 March 2013
Synopsis: THE CROODS is a 3D comedy adventure that follows the world's first modern family as they embark on a journey of a lifetime when the cave that has always been their home is destroyed. Traveling across a spectacular landscape, the Croods are rocked by generational clashes and seismic shifts as they discover an incredible new world filled with fantastic creatures -- and their outlook is changed forever.
There's a certain formula brewing in the world of animation, where the essence of successful movies get a new lease of life ressurected in another form. Toy Story was Pixar's enormous success, and with last year's Disney offering Wreck-It Ralph, shades of the former film can be seen from the way toys, now electrons, programs and digital characters, come to life when the humans go off from the arcade for the day. In The Croods, one may suggest it could have taken a spin out of Ige Age, a pre-historic, rip-roaring animated franchise that may have seen tired legs of late, adopting that blast from the past setting, only that it introduces early cave people, rather than a motley crew of animals.
From the get go, The Croods may need a little time to get used to. They don't look so cute or adorable, and are pretty rough around the etiquette aspects. After all, they still collectively hunt in the wild without the use of much tools, and spend most of their day hiding in their cave, for fear of the more colourful creatures that inhabit the land. This fear keeps the family of five - Dad Grug (Nicolas Cage), Mom Ugga (Catherine Keener), Daughter Eep (Emma Stone), Son Thunk (Clark Duke) and Grandma Gran (Cloris Leachman) - alive, when other clans have inevitably bitten the dust for their lack of care. And like any typical family, these ancestors of ours have rules to play by, which are of patriarchal standards that have served them well. Until of course, that rebellious teenage adolescent stage that Eep goes through that puts their lifestyle in jeopardy, plus that doomsday scenario looming where the earth under their feet start to tremble, because of the geological shifting of tectonic plates.
Things go into overdrive when the teenager Guy (Ryan Reynolds) comes into the picture, who sets Eep's heart aflutter, albeit in very cave-person terms short of clubbing her loved one and dragging him to her cave. Guy represents that touch of modernity, creativity and innovativeness that had served him well, being the last of his clan, to roam the world in search of the fabled Tomorrow promised land, while escaping from the cracks in the Earth. But romance isn't the only thing happening in The Croods, which is essentially a tale about survival and family togetherness, wrapped around by a father-daughter story that makes it extremely family friendly, with solid themes built into it that any parent would approve of when deciding to bring their children to this animated movie. The character relationships with one another, from Grug's feeling threatened by Guy's arrival, and Greg's eternal bitterness with his mother-in-law, are relationships that anyone would immediately identify with given personal experiences, or through horror stories told by others.
And what's not to like about an animated film that consists of plenty of set action pieces, all of which are kinetic and adrenaline charged sequences, and utilizes immensely colourful palettes to paint a picture of an imaginary past, with strange creatures galore. It's really the envelope of artistic license being pushed to come up with creature designs that not only are set to populate the landscapes, but also utilized as prominent plot elements at various stages of the narrative. Voice casting was spot on and everyone sounded like they're having a good time fleshing their respective characters, some of whom like Eep do bear facial resemblance to her human counterpart in Emma Stone. Then there's that blend of comedy into a well written, solid story that makes The Croods tremendously entertaining, picking up from its slow start, and growing into a crescendo for the final third of the film, yet has plenty of heart when it mattered to challenge the grown person in you not to shed a tear or two.
So credit goes to writers-directors Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco, who between them have had a hand at the helm of other animated films such as How to Train Your Dragon, Lilo & Stitch, and the not so glamourous Space Chimps, to know what would work, and what wouldn't, for a genre like this one. And this experience shows in the way their story got crafted, with that perfection of a blend between simplicity and complexity in the narrative for young ones and adults respectively, to ensure the end result was something the family can go to. And like its spiritual companion Ice Age, it would be hard pressed for this film not to share similar success, and to have a slew of follow up films that expand this strangely curious pre-historic world the characters inhabit, while further cementing the ties that bind. A definite must-watch!