Dreamworks have been quite impressive with their output in recent years. Madagascar and Shrek aside, their films have been original, creative, fun and gorgeous. Even their sequels have been hitting the mark. As Pixar moves towards more sequels and prequels, it is nice to see Dreamworks step up and provide a challenge to the throne.
Dreamworks latest is The Croods. The film is essentially a coming of age caveman movie, in which a family of cave people are forced to venture out in the world. It is focused around Eep (Emma Stone), a young cavelady who is tired of living in a cave and just wants to explore and live life. Her overprotective father, Grug (Nicolas Cage), tries everything he can to keep her in the cave, but when she meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds) everything changes for Eep and the family. Now they must stick together and survive against ‘The End’.
The Croods is written and directed by Chris Sanders, of the Dreamworks classic How To Train Your Dragon, and Kirk DeMicco. They seem to have approached the film with the mindset of creating non-stop big exciting action sequences. It is purely on this one-track, with the film barely pausing for breath in its short 90 minute run-time. Because of the speed, the writers seemed to have given up on subtly getting the messages across, with the film’s point dropped like a brick every 5 minutes. It can be frustrating for an adult audience, although kids wouldn’t pick up on it.
The animation here is superb, the constantly changing environment will blow you away. Each crack or eruption brings about a new environment for our heroes to get through. Some are dark, some are bright, some are colourful, some are dull. The environment is a character itself and its changes are fascinating to watch. The animators have also served up a host of inventive monsters that the kids will lap up. It is surprising, but the lead character design is actually the poorest, with them frankly being quite ordinary and cliché.
Emma Stone is has a charming screen presence and it transfers seemlessly to animation. She fills Eep with a lot of heart and gives a strong female character that kids all across the globe can get behind and fall in love with. Nic Cage is also fantastic, his wacky hijinks work perfectly for Grug. I’d love to see the behind the scene footage, with every freakout you picture Nic Cage doing the craziest things. Ryan Reynolds is the only voice actor that doesn’t feel right, he struggles to make Guy charismatic, which is what the character really needed.
The Croods is big, loud, fun. The animation is gorgeous and the voice cast give it their all. The messages are probably too in your face, but all the other parts click together and the film provides its audience with plenty to laugh at and plenty of excitement. It’ll definitely appeal more to kids, but there is enough here for adults as well.
4.0 out of 5.0