I saw The Croods last night with some trepidation. The previews didn't really appeal to me, and the idea of a caveman family road trip comedy didn't exactly get my butt in the chair. It was the only thing starting around the time I went to the theater. There, I admit it.
I sort of loved the movie, faults and all. I walked away with two thoughts. Emma Stone can do anything. ANYTHING. She was the only thing about Gangster Squad that appealed to me (I am a sucker for a mol in a hot dress), and this proves that she is a true star even though we only hear her voice. The other thing I will take away from this is that Nicolas Cage should ONLY be allowed to do voice work so the world does not have to be subjected to his twichy, conspiratoral face for 2 hours. This is the only performance in recent memory where I didn't want to individually pick out my eyelashes while watching him. Maybe because he looks like this:
Stone voices Eep, a curious cavegirl who wants nothing more than to get away from her embarrassing family (ahh, to be a teen again). Her father, Grug (Cage) is overprotective and rejects anything new out of fear that they will suffer the same horrible deaths that all the other cave-families have succumbed to. The rest of the Crood clan includes mother Ugga (Catherine Keener, always a pleasure), brother Thunk (Clark Duk), Gran (Cloris Leachman, who else?), and ferocious baby Sandy (Randy Thom), and they are content to go follow Grug's survival rules.
One night, Eeps sees a glowing light outside the cave and gleefully runs outside to discover Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), an intelligent caveboy with a fire he built himself. Guy tells Eep that the world is ending and he is looking for a better place to go. He gives her a shell to call him with if she ever needs his help. They part ways, and, the next day, an earthquake destroys the Croods' cave, and a beautiful, colorful world is opened to them. The first few shots were literally taken from Avatar, by the way. I am not crazy! Those floating, white, fluffy things from Avatar are TOTALLY in The Croods. You should probably just see the movie to prove to everyone that the filmmakers clearly want to be on Pandora
Who knew I would be open to a prehistoric fish out of water animated movie? The Croods have to run from strange beasts and Guy teaches them new ways to survive (There is a sequence where Guy makes the entire family shoes. Stone's reaction is rather funny). Grug resents Guy's cleverness, and his own stubbornness becomes rather frustrating to the rest of the family.
I liked The Croods much more than I thought I would. The third act becomes a bit repetitive, but the colorful animation and the voice acting are both strong. Some younger kids might like the Ice Age movies better because of the talking animals, and they might a bit bored near the end. Eep is a good character for girls for about the first third of the movie. She made me think of a prehistoric Merida from Brave for about two seconds (you know, without the bow and arrow...and the Irish brogue...), but whenever she meets Guy she becomes a bit too smitten. Her immediate interaction with his character is funny, but later she becomes rather bozo in his presence. Stone's voice work is great, though. I can only imagine how much fun she had recording this.
The Croods is surpisingly heartfelt, and it would be a good movie for fathers to take their young daughters to. The importance of family and the lesson that your family, no matter how crazy, will always love you shines through.