A prehistoric family—Mom and Dad, rebellious teenage daughter, shy son, a wild toddler, and an even wilder Grandma—live in a cave where they can hide not only from predatory animals, but from any new influence. Dad or Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage) is convinced that the only reality in life is his and it is his job to protect his family by having them do the same old thing every day. Mom or Ugga (voiced by Catherine Keener) goes along with Grug’s program most of the time but wants him to be more understanding of their feisty teenage daughter Eeep (voiced by Emma Stone), who desperately wants to see the horizon beyond their valley. Big Thunk, the son (voiced by Clark Duke), is a shadow of his father\ but trying not to be. Sandy, my favorite character (voiced by Randy Thom)
is a hyperactive biter who runs around like a feral terrior — none of the ferocious animals want to tangle with her. Gran, Grug’s near-toothless mother-in-law (voiced by Cloris Leachman) makes his life miserable with her biting sarcasm, which she finds hilarious. Grug is more protective than usual lately because one by one, the other cave families have died or disappeared and The Croods are the only humans left in the neighborhood.
Though decorated with walls of hand-painted rock drawings, the cave is dark and dank and poor Eeep is sick of it. She’s always trying to sneak away, climb up and down the rock cliffs and find something exciting beyond the next chasm. One day she meets Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), dressed in his shamanic animal outfit and Belt (voiced by co-director Chris Sanders), his monkey-like pal who also serves both as his navigator and his belt to keep up his pants. Guy warns Eeep that catastrophic disaster is about to fall upon the earth—storms and spewing volcanoes and cracking earth—and she and her family must get to high ground if they want to stay alive.
Grug hears Eep’s dire predictions, doesn’t believe her, but to protect his family he sets off with Guy and his family to to find whatever life holds for them far away from his beloved cave. Emotionally much of the film bears a warm resemblance to Finding Nemo, my number one favorite animated film in which a loving father fish seeks his missing son.
Soon the family finds themselves in a gorgeous new world, almost as beautiful as the one in Avatar ,where they discover unbelievably wondrous things, like fire, and popcorn and shoes.Everywhere are strange creatures, seemingly put together with the pieces from lots of other creatures—with all kinds of locomotion to give the story plenty of movement. These discoveries, seen through their amazed eyes, are pretty amazing to us in the audience, too. In fact every new thing that The Croods see, or encounter is amazing and makes for a movie that is really fun to watch.
The Croods are a vibrantly alive brood, open and honest with one another and themselves, warm and loving to one anotherr when push comes to shove, and almost always pretty funny. It’s a great family, and every audience member I observed was really digging on this movie.
The Croods is one of those rare animated movies that has high marks for all the things animated movies should have – totally mind-boggling visual imagery, likeable voice talent, and something that’s usually missing – a great human story with lots of slapstick comedy. And not one potty joke. In essence, this film was put together by some classy, fun folks and their reward has been a huge box office return.
Even better, the movie provides two good leads, one of each gender. There’s Grug, the sometimes goofy but always caring father. And Eep, the fun-seeking teenager. Thus the film suavely answers my usual criticism of animated movies—that they are male-centric. Eep has plenty of screen time, and moxey, to make any sex equality concerned Mama happy. I wish she and cute Guy had a kiss or something approaching romance, but maybe that will come in The Croods, Part II.
If you like animation, you will love The Croods, with or without kids.