[Review] The Croods (2013)
The Croods follows the story of a family of Neanderthal cavemen with the titular name living in a prehistoric era (but they obviously speak English) with Grug (voiced by the immortal Nic Cage) as its paternal leader, an ultra-strong hit-first-ask-question-later overprotective father. Emma Stone voiced Eep, Grug’s elder daughter who’s rebellious to her own father, just like any other teenage girl in this Justin Bieber-Demi Lovato era. The other members of the Croods are Grug’s wife Ugga, his son Thunk, daughter Sandy (whose character in this movie was very much like Jack-Jack of ‘The Incredibles’), and Grug’s mother-in-law who’s definitely more than meets the eye. The Croods, as led by Grug, is the last remaining family of the era, the other was slaughtered or killed much due to their own recklessness. The rule of survival, according to Grug, was simple: never wander away from their cave at night. But when Eep broke the rule one night and went for the night of her life, she ran into Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) a much innovative caveboy with his sloth pet Belt, who’s basically the exact opposite of his father. Guy warned Eep about the impending ‘end’ of the world as she knew it and taught her a thing or two about surviving, much to the fascination of Eep. The conflict began when Grug learned about Guy. This led to Grug’s jealousy as Guy easily appealed to the rest of the family with his witty and innovative technique of survival, in contrast to the old-fashioned method of his.
To say the least, I enjoyed The Croods down to the last bit. It’s the kind of movie that works across generations of audience. It puts much focus on the bond of a family relationship. The message is universal: how they have to survive against the test of time together and never abandon any of its member during the process. Grug himself wasn’t that much likeable – he’s old fashioned etcetera etcetera – but there’s no denying he’s the responsible father to the family as he always does the head count every time after they were blasted through the air or succesfully got away from the threat of prehistorical beasts. Moreover, the film is also a picture telling how the older generation should have never looked down on the youths today, as they brought something never before seen to the table – Guy making fire was an innovation the Croods never saw before and how the fire may come in handy during their hunt for foods. It speaks volume more than it appears to be.
Fast-paced action is Crood’s greatest suit. I particularly enjoyed the hunting scene at the beginning of the movie, which obviously took inspiration from a very tense football game. The scene was the film’s best part, just like the air flight scene in ‘How To Train Your Dragon’, which may be more memorable than the entire film itself. Oh, and by the way, both films are directed by the same Chris Sanders. A veteran of his caliber, Sanders along with his co-director Kirk DeMicco never failed in keeping the audience having fun as well as emotionally engaged throughout the entire film. There was some emotional moment at the end that will break the unprepared to tears.
The voice actors are perhaps second to none in giving a breath to their respective characters. Nic Cage as Grug is as believable as ever (perhaps since he’s also a nuisance in real-life?) and Emma Stone did a magnificent job voicing the volatile Eep. Voicing a prehistoric cavemen family wasn’t that easy but the casts really did a great job with the grumbles and grunts which sound funny but never ridiculous. Oh, and I came to much greater sense of respect for Ryan Reynolds, as it never occured to me he could pull such a high-spirited, funny character of a guy like, well.. Guy.
The downpart perhaps was that other than Grug and Eep and Guy, the rest of the family never got much spotlight. I think that’s the hardest part in having too much characters in the family, some must have to be sacrificed for the sake of some other. Also the film sort of feels like jumping to conclusion sooner than expected. The last 15 minutes felt too rushed in some part, and in other part, draggy. And some of us may like it to end at a particular point rather than its original ending, but who’s we to say anything? Well, we’ve seen worse, and The Croods is definitely far from the worst.
Overall, if you’re down to one rather decent family movie during the weekend, choose The Croods over anything else. Best animated film of 2013 so far. Let’s see whether Monsters University will have much to say in June.