23 Apr 2013

The Croods


I like animated films. I like the stories they tell and the way they can tell them. Over time animated films have gone beyond simple shorts to poignant and clever layered narratives for both children and the parents that are inevitably escorting them to the movies.  Wall-E, the Lion King and Up are a long way from Donald and Mickey.

Pixar changed the game with Toy Story and every year they push the boundaries to bring us better and better films. But, as I have noted before, their competitors are sometimes dismissed for the simple fact that they are not Pixar.  I dislike this trend.  I think that you can dislike a film for not being as good for various reasons, but not instantly dismiss it because it is made by Dream Works.  Dreamworks animation have made some really great movies; Monsters versus Aliens, Shrek, How to Train your Dragon, Wallace and Grommet/ Curse of the Were-rabbit, Madagascar, and ANTZ.

Just kidding Antz was an abomination.

With any film, animated or not, it should be judged on its merits or lack thereof.  With that being said let us look at The Croods.

Synopsis

The Croods are a family of Neanderthals who live in an insanely dangerous world filled with colourful and peculiar creatures.   All their neighbours and friends have been methodically killed off by disease or giant Owl-tiger attack.  Grug (Nicolas Cage) is the father of the tiny clan, and is determined to keep his family safe.  His rules are simple, anything new is dangerous. Eep (Emma Stone) feels constricted by his rules and fear of the new. She wants to explore and discover new things. But Grug keeps them securely in their cave.  But after an earthquake destroys their home the family have no choice but to leave their valley and explore out into the world. 

Firstly the Dreamworks artists have had a field day with the stylised prehistoric world of the Croods. Instead of recreating another Ice-Age movie, they have made a crazy world of land whales, flying piranha birds and flying turtles, and all in a vivid palate of colours. While I Imagine some palaeontologists having conniptions over the various creatures the croods encounter, I found it fun.

The story revolves around Eep's struggle for independence from her father Grug. This is complicated by the introduction of Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a Cro-Magnon traveller who challenges Grugs authority with his superior intellect and survival skills.  Grug has always been the one to protect his family, but Guy is a better provider and survivor than Grug.

The story isn’t new, but it isn’t trite either. The Croods' search for a new home reflects the figurative and literal journey of Grug and Eep as they travel beyond into uncharted territory.

The small cast were great; Belt (Chris Sanders) was my firm favourite. And those who dislike Mr Cage, for being, well Nicholas Cage, may find his role as Grug still enjoyable. Ryan Reynolds plays the affable and inventive Guy, Cloris Leachman plays Gran, the indomitable mother Of Ugga, who is played by  Catherine Keener, who is Grug's wife. Clark Duke and Randy Thom play Thunk, and Sandy, Grugs and Uggas youngest children respectively.

I went in hoping to be entertained and I was. I saw the Croods in 2d as usual, but it is shown in 3D if that is your thing. I recommend a trip to the movies to see The Croods, especially if you need a film for the school holidays. It is bright, colourful, and most of all entertaining.

 

Six monkeys from me.

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