Grug (Nicolas Cage) is the quintessential protective father who tries to shield his family from the dangers of the world. His daughter Eep (Emma Stone) is the adventurous type and wants to explore life outside of their cave. An unexpected visitor, Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who possesses the ability to create fire, warns the family that the world is about to crash down around them. Grug is forced to make some drastic decisions to protect his caveman clan, “The Croods.”
Watching the trailer for “The Croods,” it felt like I would be seeing a version of “Brave” set in the Stone Age with daughter Eep coming of age and adventurous. Instead, veteran director Chris Sanders along with newcomer to the helm Kirk De Marco make an honest-to-goodness family film that is one of those rarities: a true film for all ages.
The combination of dazzling 3D animation, witty, funny dialog and characters, good voicing of these characters, especially by Nicolas Cage as Grug, make for a neat and entertaining package. It also helps that the family-grounded story is funny, smart and contemporary. There is, quite literally, something for everyone, even the little ones who will be entertained by the 3D animation, bright, vibrant colors and an imaginative array of new creatures – an elephant mouse, four-winged toucan turtles, a land whale, a giant saber-toothed kitty cat and more.
The pairing of the Neanderthal characters with the actors shows a fine job of casting. Nicolas Cage gives a lot of depth to his caveman Grug and reminds me of some of the best TV situation comedy dads. Emma Stone’s tomboy Eep is, surprisingly, only two-dimensional as she defies her dad as the rebellious teen. Ryan Reynolds gives Guy a hip, modern and inventive attitude but with human (or homo sapien) fears, like being afraid of the dark. Mom Ugga (Catherine Keener) is the voice of reason and patience and brother Thunk (Dane Clark) is aptly named. Cloris Leachman does her usual yeoman’s job as the voice of grandma Gran. There is also their near-feral youngster Sandy (Randy Thom), a cute little sloth who is Guy’s clinging companion, the correctly named Belt (Chris Sanders) and the world’s first canine pet, Douglas.
The story about a family that embarks upon a dangerous journey to find safety in prehistoric times feels kind of like any of the “Ice Age” movies, but is far better. Animation and 3D are seamlessly joined and “The Croods” is one of those rare films that I actually enjoyed in three dimensions. The adventure tale is nothing new but it is the story about family bonding, love and mutual dependence that makes this terrific family fare. It has empathetic characters, a well-told story with many laughs, sentimentality, danger, fantastical creatures and a rousing finale. Not bad, to me. I give it a B+.
Laura did not see this film.
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