Highly evolved – The Croods review

The Croods

By Simon Miraudo
December 2, 2013

Father doesn’t always know best. If your dad is a caveman – or Nicolas Cage – that can be especially the case. In DreamWorks Animation’s offbeat effort The Croods, teenage troglodyte Eep (Emma Stone) grows tired of her overprotective pop, Grug (Cage), keeping her hidden from the outside world. His fears are not totally unfounded, though: the outside world is indeed overrun with prehistoric creatures eager to, well, eat her, and it would certainly be a bummer if they succeeded.

But evolution is on the horizon, and when Eep becomes smitten with the inventive, forward-thinking Guy (Ryan Reynolds), Grug realises he may be more of a fossil than he realises. So begins a journey far from home, instigated by Guy, towards the sun and, hopefully, a better tomorrow. Before they reach their destination, however, Grug will do his best to undermine his little girl’s new beau, and, with any luck, cause his unkillable mother-in-law, Gran (Cloris Leachman), to suffer a fatal heart attack in their dangerous new terrain. (Writer-directors Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders really have no issue imbuing their kids’ flick with some dark, adult humour.)

The Croods

The Croods is a delight, thanks to its playful cast, also including Catherine Keener (as Eep’s mother, Ugga) and Clark Duke (playing dim-witted brother, Thunk). Cage, Stone, and Reynolds are well versed in wry comedy, and they make for appealing, good-humoured leads. Though the character designs are a little bland – perhaps a testament to their under-evolved nature – the animation is rather stunning. It serves a story that ultimately lacks forward momentum, and is instead littered with amusing asides and occasionally thrilling action sequences.

The picture is concerned more with its family dynamic than any predictable kind of plot. That’s a blessing. As Grug begrudgingly learns to accept Eep’s new womanhood – and, even more begrudgingly, her would-be boyfriend – the film tugs at all the right heart-strings; their daddy-daughter dynamic proving to be a solid anchor for an otherwise aimless script. Set four million years in the past, The Croods nonetheless feels like a step-forward for the usually pop-culture cribbing DreamWorks’ studio (similar to their lovely, ageless How To Train Your Dragon). More like this, please.

3.5/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s other reviews here.

The Croods will be available on Quickflix from December 4, 2013.

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