“The Croods” approaches the dawn of Man in a fun-first way that kids will love, but with enough heart and spectacle to keep adults engaged.
BY MIKE CAVALIERE | ASSOCIATE EDITOR
It’s dark, familiar and boring inside the Crood family cave. But it’s safe. And that’s good enough for Grug (voiced by Nicholas Cage), the family’s patriarch.
When their mountain home gets smashed, though — an effect of the splitting of Pangaea – the family is forced to head out into the world and try to do more than just survive. Now, they have to learn how to live.
Before, the rules were simple: Don’t go outside; don’t try new things; don’t take risks; never be curious. That was how you stayed alive. But now the plates are shifting; continents are forming; Grug’s daughter, Eep (Emma Stone), meets a nomad named Guy, who serves as the family’s link into the modern age.
Whether they like it or not, earth-altering change is taking place, right before the family’s eyes. And change is never easy.
What’s cool about the story is that, even though it’s a kids’ movie in every single way, it’s not all happiness and hi jinx. Grug really struggles with this new way of living — with using fire, and wearing shoes and sleeping in the open. He worries about keeping his family safe. And even when he sees the ground breaking underneath him, his first reaction is still to run inside a cave and shut the rock behind him.
From the directors of “Lilo & Stich,” “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Space Chimps,” “The Croons” is filled with action. It’s funny and light, and its animation is amazing. But there are these wonderful hints of tragedy underlying so many of its little triumphs.
Each new discovery the family makes distances them from their old way of life, making them just a little less reliant on Grug. So how could he not start to feel left behind and lost, somehow, in time?
Much like Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit,” “The Croods” relies on action to structure its story, and that can get pretty dull. The family ventures onto new ground, encounters danger, runs, etc. But unlike “The Hobbit,” this is a movie that knows and embraces its place as a no-bones-about-it family popcorn flick.
“The Croods” is short, sweet and awesome to look at it. A great time at the movies.
“The Croods” (PG, 1 hr 32 minutes)
Released: March 24, 2013
**** (of five)
Maybe “The Croods” goes a little heavy on the action, but its always matched with the same level of heart. It’s the kind of movie kids will love, even if they never notice the adult themes of change, parenting and Man’s struggle with modernity.
Rotten Tomatoes 65% fresh (of 105 critics)
IMDB 7.4 (out of 3,321 fans)Z
Christy Lemire, A.P. **.5 (of four)
Kyle Smith, N.Y. Post * (of four)