The Croods are a prehistoric family of cavemen led by Grug (Nicholas Cage), the massive, strong leader of the pack. The Croods spend their days hunting for food, but at dusk or any sign of threat, Grug leads them back into their cave where they sometimes stay for days at a time. There they sleep and listen to Grug tell stories of why exploration and curiosity will lead to death, much to the dismay of his adventure seeking teenage daughter, Eep (Emma Stone). One night, Eep sneaks out the cave and meets a more advanced wanderer, Guy (Ryan Reynolds). Guy enlightens Eep with his ability to create and maintain fire. Guy also tells Eep that he has witnessed the beginning of the end of the world and is on the way to the top of a mountain to reach high ground and escape through the sun. Soon after, platonic shifting that results in the continent breaking apart leads Eep and the Croods on the same path as Guy despite Grug’s reluctance to lose power over his family.
The Croods is beautifully imaginative in its direction, which creates an all encompassing world of breathtaking depth. The colors of the plant life and animals are vibrantly eye popping, even without seeing it in 3D. The breadth of The Croods world comes to life in staggering detail based solely on the film’s movement and color; such as when dust from rocks swirl toward and away from the viewer, instead of simply falling down in a typical two dimensional practice. The realism in the hair of characters and the billowing clouds of smoke from explosions is stunning. The world that the family explores is so lustrous that at times you don’t mind the mediocrity of what’s happening to them or just what little sense the story actually makes.
Wait, so you’re cavenmen but you have never seen the stars before? Now that’s just ignorant.
However, The Croods’ failure to make sense with it’s overall paper thin screenplay becomes too much to ignore. Most of the film is a disappointment due to the lack of explanation given to make viewers understand this prehistoric world. For instance, a break in the fault line causes a mountain of rocks a few miles up from the Croods’ cave to crumble. We are shown that just over that mountain is a land of lush, green forests complete with an array of plant life and strange beings that live within it. This beautiful world could make sense if it weren’t just a few miles away from the Croods’ barren dry, deserted, rocky area. Furthermore, when rain comes later in the film Grug is threatened and attempts to fight it, an indication that he’s never experienced rain before. So, how is this valley of lush vegetation exist in such abundance if no rain has come in the area? Does it just rain at night when the Croods are in their cave? And if they fear rain, how are they so accustomed to and unafraid of water when they reach it? How are they all just able to swim freely if they’ve been constricted to this barren terrain of rocks and dust?
There are also too many conveniences within the story to buy than The Croods’ world can sustain without an author’s obvious intervention. They are always able to outrun earthquakes and breaks in fault line. In fact, natural occurrences don’t happen spontaneously, instead they are perfectly timed, giving everyone just enough leeway to make it to higher ground before the last rock falls away. Also, I was extremely confused by the nonsensical animals that surround the family as their evolutionary point is never explored. There are whales living on land, half-elephant half-fish beings, tigers that want companionship with their prey… what!?
The inspiration for the animals featured in The Croods was Napoleon Dynamite’s Liger.
You know how The Flinstone’s was cool because their dishwashers were dinosaurs and their cars ran on momentum so their feet could rest and lamp shades were made of animal skins? The Croods isn’t on that level; it’s imaginative, but it lacks ingenuity. Guy wears pants and boot-like shoes made of a half dinosaur-half mammoth, how he cut it to make that work is beyond me. Eve’s tiger stripped outfit is impractical, barely secure and exposes every curve of her body– which in itself is questionable in a film rated G. Plus the Croods only hunt for non-threatening things like eggs, so when would a tiger come into the picture? Especially since the film establishes that tigers are green and purple with long haired fur.
I’m ready for my close-up, prehistoric Mr. Demille.
Furthermore, the humor of The Croods is weak. It relies heavily on slapstick and outdated motifs like the bait and switch of making puppets in a time of distraction. I laughed a few times, but overall much of the things meant to be funny just weren’t. The reoccurring joke of Grug’s desire for his mother-in-law to die was one the film’s handful of jokes that got big laughs in a theater filled with kids and their parents. Creepy but true.
The Croods had the potential to be a unique comedic romp that teaches children about prehistoric life and the history of the formation of the continents. Instead, it shies away from that responsibility, succeeding at being nothing more than a mediocre film featuring cavemen. Had it been in better hands, like Pixar, I have no doubt if could have been a greater experience. However, considering there are just no films out for children right now, The Croods fills that void by at least being an aesthetically pleasing film that brings a few chuckles.
Take a Drink: for every “Dun dun duuuun”
Take a Drink: every time Grug goes into a jealous rage over Guy’s attention.
Take a Drink: every time Grug tells a story when someone dies
Take a Drink: every time Grug is disappointed that Gran is still alive.