BY DAN METCALF
Clipper Film Correspondent
Rated PG for some scary action.
Starring (voices of) Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Chris Sanders, Randy Thom.
Written and Directed by Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco.
Pixar may yet be the reigning king of the hill when it comes to computer animated feature films, but other studios are rapidly closing the gap. Dreamworks Animation is the clear runner-up with solid franchises such as Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and How To Train Your Dragon. While most of the Dreamworks films are visually impressive, their stories and scripts aren't always top-notch, which may be why they have yet to overtake Pixar's dominance.
The latest Dreamworks animated feature is The Croods, the story of a caveman and his efforts to save his family from global catastrophe. Nicolas Cage voices Grug, an overcautious caveman with a lot of safety rules, most of which involve retreating to the family cave at the slightest hint of danger – real or imagined. Grug's teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone) resists her father's tight rule at any opportunity, while longing for a life outside the cave.
One night, Eep steals away from the family cavern, and meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a young man with a lot of innovative ideas and the knowledge of how to make fire. Guy also knows the aforementioned global catastrophe is on its way, and plans to stay ahead of it. When an earthquake destroys the family cave, Grug is forced to follow Guy into a jungle where strange new creatures roam. Eep (who is taken by Guy's charm and intelligence), Grug's wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), his son Thunk (Clark Duke), his savage toddler daughter Sandy (Randy Thom) and his mother-in-law Gran (Cloris Leachman) tag along as well.
As Grug's family encounters all kinds of new adventures, Guy leads them along, introducing new ways of thinking, which threatens Grug's authority and paranoid habits. As Eep falls in love with Guy and the “End of the World” fast approaches, Grug must learn to evolve, or lose everything dear to him.
The Croods is a fun movie that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The computerized animation is up to par with the best Pixar films, while the action and humor keep the story moving. The humor in The Croods is hit and miss, but funny enough to keep kids in stitches. The outcome of the Croods' saga is easy to see coming, and barely brushes with the kind fatherly sentimentality last seen in Finding Nemo.
Some of the odd creatures and bright colored prehistoric landscapes in The Croods might be a little weird to some, but you can't help but be awed by the technological spectacle of it all. It's odd how far computerized animation has advanced in the past two decades, and the improvement of animation technology since Toy Story blew us away.
The Croods may not be the best family film of the year, but it's good enough to keep computerized animation from returning to the Stone Age.