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Film Review: The Croods

Did you know that cavemen can do parkour? That they hunt to the tune of “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac as performed by the USC Trojans Marching Band? That there’s always one person in the family who’s curious and seeks new things even though the rest of the family buys into the whole “new is bad” thing?

If you’d seen The Croods, you’d know these things. And other things too.

The Croods, in case you’ve been living in a cave, is a new animated film about a family of cavemen who come face to face with the end of the world. You’ve pretty much met all the characters in other movies and even on sitcoms, so I’ll just skim over them for you:

  • Grug (Nicolas Cage, Kick Ass) — The large, strong dad who is set in his ways and refuses to change.
  • Ugga (Catherine Keener, Being John Malkovich) — The sensible, attractive mom.
  • Eep (Emma Stone, Easy A) — More or less the main character, Eep is the red-haired, green-eyed, athletic, intelligent, curious girl.
  • Thunk (Clark Duke, Hot Tub Time Machine) — The chubby, dullard-ish middle child who loves his father and just wants to make him happy.
  • Sandy (Randy Thom, an established sound designer who’s worked on many, many films) — The insane toddler who’ll eat anything and always gets underfoot.
  • Gran (Cloris Leachman, Raising Hope) — Ugga’s mother, who is old, crochety, carries a cane, makes cutting remarks, and who has a friendly-antagonistic relationship with the dad.

In fact, Dreamworks has gone so far as to release these images of the characters. Because, y’know, they might as well bang the “we’re being formulaic!” drum as loud as possible.

So the Croods are doing their thing, being afraid of stuff, looking for food, when Eep sees a strange light, sneaks out, and follows it. She finds Guy (Ryan Reynolds, Blade: Trinity), who has made fire, and his animal friend Belt (Chris Sanders, Lilo and Stitch). Before he leaves her to go on his way, he gives her a shell in case she needs him — oh, and he tells her that the world is ending. As you do.

“Da! Da! DAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!” (Ryan Reynolds as Guy and Chris Sanders as Belt)

Of course, the next day the world ends, Eep calls Guy, and thus begins an adventure to find safety — an adventure that includes the expected “dad gets all mad at the new person” and “dad and daughter can’t see eye to eye” and “touching reconciliation” and “dad takes many pratfalls” scenes we’ve all seen before.

I think you know how the movie ends. Instead of me telling you any more, let me tell you a few more things about the film:

  • John Cleese is one of the three screenwriters.
  • Alan Silvestri did a brilliant job with the score. You’ll love it. Also, William Ross (who orchestrated part of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) worked on it a bit.
  • The creatures in the film were pretty cool. Really hard to believe the existence of — especially the lemurs — but cool to look at.
  • You’ve seen in the promo when Belt (the purplish sloth) goes “dah-dah-DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH”, right? Well, back in 2000, when I was looking for an apartment, my girlfriend at the time didn’t want to live south of Curry Ford Road. Well, all the affordable apartments are down there, and I really wanted to live in that area. I used to say to her, “oh, no! Curry Ford! Dah-dah-DAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” We both found it pretty funny.
  • I think there was too much wind in the film, perhaps just for the animators to make the characters’ hair move. It was a bit too noticeable.
  • Why did they put a Star Trek Into Darkness trailer on what is basically a kids’ movie. I enjoyed the trailer, but my daughter didn’t. I’m just saying.

I did ask my six-year-old daughter what she thought about the movie, but she wasn’t in the mood to talk. Still, she did enjoy Belt, and she got some laughs overall. She didn’t quite understand one of the climactic scenes when [SPOILER — go to rot13.com to decipher] Teht jnf guebjvat rirelbar npebff gur punfz — fur jbaqrerq jul rirelbar jnf fb fnq. Ng gung ntr V qba’g guvax xvqf gehyl pbzceruraq gur zrnavat bs frys-fnpevsvpr. [SPOILER]

Overall, I think this was a good film. It was written to hit certain emotional points, and it hit them. It was well-animated, well-directed, and pretty darn funny. I got a lot of laughs out of it, as did my daughter and everyone else in the theater. You’ll like it, as long as you can handle a somewhat formulaic plot.

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Note to Parents: This film is aimed at kids. There’s mild crude humor, moderate violence (though mostly of the “ground blowing up” variety), and lots of scary moments. It should be okay for anyone elementary-school-age and up. Of course, you should use your own best judgment when it comes to your children.

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About the Author

Josh Roseman (not the trombonist; the other one) lives in Georgia. His fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Escape Pod, and the Crossed Genres anthology Fat Girl in a Strange Land. His voice has been heard around the fiction podosphere as well, including here on Escape Pod. Find him online at roseplusman.com, or on Twitter @listener42.

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