The Croods (2013)
Director: Kirk De Micco & Chris Sanders
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone
Plot: The world's very first prehistoric family goes on a road trip to an uncharted and fantastical world.
Awards: Nom. for 1 Oscar - Best Animated Feature
Rating: PG for some scary action.
A highly energetic and engaging film, The Croods tells the story of a prehistoric family trying to survive in a world where the beautiful yet destructive forces of nature threaten to destroy them. As they run away, they meet and engage the help of a resourceful young man, Guy (Ryan Reynolds). The central conflict of the film is highlighted from the beginning, as Eep (Emma Stone) introduces audiences to her family, including her overprotective father, Grug (Nicholas Cage) who insists that the family stays in the cave for safety. However, Eep is a curious and adventurous young girl who desires to explore the world outside.
With the central conflict in place, the film takes audiences into a beautiful prehistoric world where danger looms in every corner. The film is fast-paced and action-packed, making it feel like a roller-coaster ride. There is never a dull moment, as the world constantly seeks to amaze, surprise or thrill audiences in a hilarious manner. There were many instances during the film when audiences were made to think that a sequence has ended but are caught by surprise when something new comes out. All these keep the audiences thoroughly engaged and entertained.
The quirky characters, although lacking in psychological depth, are entertaining and endearing. Each character is distinctive and has his or her own quirks that amuse audiences. Moreover, character motivations are clear and relatable, as audiences can understand Eep's curiosity while sympathizing with Grug's compulsion to keep his family safe. Despite such differences, the family stays together throughout the film.
Speaking of which, the film has two main messages it wishes to convey: 1) Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and 2) your family is the most important thing in your life. These messages repeat themselves in different forms throughout the film. As a result, there may be times when adult audiences feel like the film is shoving these morals down their throats. However, the film is after all, targeted primarily at children and the humor more than makes up for such a flaw.
The film's ending, however, is a little disappointing. Although the humor is still there, the pacing slows down noticeably, as if the film is unable to keep up with its high energy levels earlier. Also, the character motivations and relationships change rather abruptly, causing the ending to feel a little forced. Of course, the happy ending, however forced, will probably negate these flaws for most audiences and allow them to leave the theater on a positive note.
The Croods is the latest film by DreamWorks Animation, which has brought us some wonderful animated films like Shrek (2001), Kung Fu Panda (2008) and How to Train Your Dragon (2010). Like these films, The Croods takes audiences on a journey in a beautiful world created by animation. The journey will definitely not disappoint, but unfortunately, I can't say the same for the ending.
Verdict: A great family film which both young and old will enjoy. It comes close to a 4-star rating but falls short.
Rating: 3.5 stars
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