If anything “The Croods”-- a new animated feature about a dysfunctional cave man family—is visually at the top of its game. An immense amount of detail has been put into the character designs as well as the environments (that range from rocky canyons, to lush, bright multicolored jungles containing an array of funky looking prehistoric plants and animals). Accompanying those stunning visuals is a lot of action and movement, which along with the bright colors should keep the little ones occupied for the duration of the running time.
However, for the rest of us in the audience it all gets to be tedious and repetitive. The movie is virtually all action; it practically never stops, almost like directors Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders are afraid that if they do stop they’ll lose the audience. The movie’s fast pace simply doesn’t cohere with its visuals. It moves so quickly through each situation that it doesn’t even take a moment to appreciate its dazzling scenery. On top of that the moral of the film’s story—that you shouldn’t always follow the rules and stick to your same routine and that trying new things is beneficial and may even save your life—is obvious from the start and the picture constantly bangs you over the head with it.
All of this to pad an incredibly thin plot that’s, well, routine.
The family, known as The Croods, is made up of five members. There’s the dad Grug (Nicholas Cage), the ultra protective but stubborn father who believes that trying new things is bad and will get you killed. His motto: never not be scared. Then there’s his supportive wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), the lug headed son Thunk (Clark Duke), and the angsty teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone) who’s tired of the routine. And finally there’s Grug’s kooky mother Gran (Cloris Leachman) who’s really only there for comedic reasons. Anyway, they’re all doing their normal cave man business (hunting, and getting into their cave before the sun goes down) until they run into Guy (Ryan Reynolds) a loner who has the exact opposite outlook on life. He believes that you should go outside of your comfort zone. Due to the separating of the continents, the Croods lose their cave and sense of security and are forced to go along with Guy into unknown territory to find safety.
The jokes in “The Croods” fall into two categories: the family in “modern” situations and using “modern” objects in a cave man setting (a “mobile home,” or “fast food”) or jokes based on the fact that they are cavemen and are discovering things for the first time (like fire and shoes). These gags are worth a chuckle but because the story is so thin and yields absolutely no surprises they get to be stale, repetitive and slightly annoying.
I hate to come down too hard on “The Croods.” Kids will be entertained and I’m sure the parents will find it bearable. Even so, “The Croods” is relatively lazy in terms of characters and story and relies too heavily on action and visuals.