“That wasn’t living. That was just not dying. There’s a difference.”
Eep (Emma Stone) is a curious little pre-historic teen girl with Cheetah-like mobility. She likes to go off exploring, finding new things, hunting, relaxing under the sun - a lot of activities your average modern teen might enjoy.
Just like today’s teenie bopper the greatest dangers of the world could be right in front of her -- the sky could be falling, the Earth’s waters running red, the mass extinction of human kind all around her. But the single greatest obstacle to her happiness? Her father.
Grug (Nicolas Cage) is a determined nearly upright, ape-like man. For days at a time he keeps his family cooped up in a cave. The sun rises and aside slides the bolder. Out comes an animal-skin clad Grug, Eep, Ugga (Catherine Keener), Gran (Cloris Leechman), Thunk, and Sandy, a family of ravenous hunter/survivors.
The lone remnants of the caveman era, we see The Croods racing against every other hungry species to capture one egg the family will all share. They are a well oiled athletic team of scroungers who soon find themselves faced with the task of evolving.
No one is more aware of the changing tides than Grug. He has seen it all. Pestilence, maulings, the downfall of, well, everything and he has learned from years of experience that the only way to survive in a diminishing world is fear.
Eep has trouble following her father’s fear based rules. She has a souring spirit eager to come out of the darkness of a cave-like prison, okay, an actual cave, a prison like cave that stifles her exploration.
In one night of sneaking into the dangers of the wide open, Eep encounters a hot stud of a modern Guy (Ryan Reynolds), and in him she discovers fire, literally. What father can beat that?
Dreamworks Animation’s “The Croods 3D” is a sweet family, coming-of-age tale about the dawn of the modern man. A story of firsts, the movie surveys a time in human history when man was learning to walk upright and into his abundance.
For mankind discovering a new world means possibilities, means a legacy, means endurance, but in the face of all that to a fearful father in means destruction.
Guy is the new element that brings change to The Croods family, but he is also the one with the knowledge that the world is ending, and the ideas on how to save it.
A savior? What father can compete with that?
Following Guy’s advice the family meets new challenges, encounters new species -- giant breathing flowers, gargantuan saber tooth kitties, a flock of flesh eating prehistoric Iiwi.
Massive excitement. What father can beat that?
The mission becomes to save his family, save mankind, and make it to the new world, all while outmaning Guy. Caveman versus modern man. Dad versus hunk.
Though the relationship between Eep and Grug (as he tries to keep her from Guy) mirrors the common daughter/father experience -- the father intimidated by the new guy getting his girl’s attention and wanting to protect her from his -- and the world is wondrous as it transforms from dry dying Earth to bountiful green paradise, the movie never really feels familiar. Recognizable, but not familiar.
Unlike many animated features, “The Croods 3D” is missing that tip to adult intellect and humor. This is a kid’s movie through and through. Nothing wrong with that. But for some adults it might feel a little slow and disconnected.
Though the movie is fun -- featuring comical characters like Sandy and Belt, the monkey like creature that serves as Guy’s buddy and, well, belt -- and visually captivating, it never really offers solid moments to make a connection. It never really goes to a wholly sentimental place.
A story line like this of death and survival begs for at least one tragedy, but “The Croods” doesn’t deliver. Everything works out because it must. That is where the biggest disconnect occurs. The expectation of tragedy isn’t met, every conflict wrapped up nicely into a family friendly bow.
The world is ending. Fathers are losing their daughters to the vast scary world and, even worse, cute boys. How about a little depth?
If you saw the Adam Sandler/Selena Gomez monster hotel movie and liked it, then you may like this one too, though it’s not as funny, not as well paced, and not as emotionally touching.
In the end, it’s a colorful and enjoyable, yet heavy handed film about overcoming fear.
And the first father learns about letting go.
This movie is appropriate for general audiences, especially anytime you have a house load of kids and need a fun activity.
Check local listings for show times.