I can honestly say that I honestly didn’t want to see The Croods. I am actually surprised that I am recommending it. I figured that this film was targeted for younger audiences, and I think it is good that there are some films that kids can watch. The problem is these types of films tend to alienate adults. While this film is no LEGO movie (which I will talk about next week), The Croods does have something that can appeal to all ages.
The film is about a group of cavemen, who are lead by Grug. Grug is voiced by Nicolas Cage, who I could easily write several articles about. I’m not certain if the role was written for him in mind, but he really plays his Nicolas Cage thing very well. Considering how many films this man has been in, just watch a few and you will see what I mean.
Another main character is Eep, Grug’s dauther, portrayed by Emma Stone. Eep begins the film with narration, explaining that her family is about the only survivor in a very hostile world. Grug has a plan to keep the family safe which involves hunting, gathering, and staying in a cave. The only problem is, a great disaster is occurring that forces them out of the cave. It isn’t really clear what this disaster is, but the ground seems to be breaking up all around them.
From there, the film is about survival, but it is also about how Grug is having a hard time embracing new things. This is made especially difficult as the Croods meet Guy, a teenager played by Ryan Reynolds. Guy has some good ideas of how to survive the hostile world filled with early mammals like sabre-tooth tigers and carnivorous birds. The problem is Grug is not very open-minded, and doesn’t want Guy making the moves on his teenage daughter.
Yeah, this plot is somewhat original, even if elements of it are pretty unoriginal. What makes it work is something that I noticed right away, is that this is a Chris Sanders film. Sanders is responsible for Lilo and Stitch and How to Train your Dragon, and his creatures have a distinct look to them. His plots are usually about how difficult it is to embrace new ideas, especially if what everyone is saying is wrong is made right.
In the case of The Croods, the plot is more than just a caveman story, which I don’t think has ever worked on film, except for The Flintstones. Still, there are some really dramatic scenes here, and one of he best is when Grug decides “no more caves”. This is a man whose former motto was “Never not be afraid”, but realizes that he can no longer hide safely in a cave. I actually enjoy hearing Nicolas Cage say: “No more caves, we go toward the light”.
For some reason, this scene just works. I can relate with the need to change mores and ethics for a greater good, and in the case of The Croods, the necessity to move is a risk that has to be taken. What I feel is justly missing is Guy’s backstory. He mentions that he lost his family to a tar pit, and this tragic event could have been probed deeper in a flashback scene or something. This would have definitely made this film a darker picture, which would have negated all the bright colors in this film.
Yes, The Croods is a kid’s film, but there are complex themes that kids may not fully understand, but still be able to relate to. This is why I do recommend it, even though there is a scene with Nicolas Cage in a rasta wig spewing dumb ideas. That was a bad as it got, but there is a lot of good in it as well.