The Croods (2013) movie review
-Special thanks to Alex Oweis for suggesting this review!
The Croods is an animated film from Dreamworks following a caveman and his family who have to leave the safety of their cave behind and venture to a new land after meeting a stranger who warms them of the coming end of the world. The film was released in March, 2013, to a warm welcome at the box office and, despite mixed reviews from critics, had a follow-up with The Croods: A New Age in 2020.
I watched The Croods for the first time a few days ago. I wasn’t really interested in seeing it in theaters, but now that we are doing Nick Cage week, we thought this might be one suggested to watch. And yeah now that I’ve seen it- It’s fine. I was actually surprised by how many smart choices this movie takes in its narrative storytelling! That said, I also wasn’t that entertained by it. Still, if you are looking for a family friendly movie, Croods is a pretty decent time.
At it’s core, The Croods is about a family, specifically the father of this family, dealing with change. Which for many (probably most) families can be a huge ordeal. They have to leave their home and travel to a new and potentially dangerous place all while Grug is also dealing with his daughter Eep more or less falling in love with a stranger named Guy who is leading them on this journey. All of which I think is just fantastic!
On top of that, there’s not much external conflict. I mean there’s plenty of dangers in this nearly fantasy depiction of what I am assuming is Stone Age. I constantly get on movies for needlessly inserting a villain where one isn’t needed, and this film neither has one nor needs one! Somehow The Croods manage to be one of the rare exceptions to the rule, and I think the story, themes, and especially character arc for Grug are all better for it.
Now as surprisingly strong as the core of of this film is, I feel that the actual entertainment value here is often lacking. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed alot! Enough to probably watch this movie again. I mean this film has just wonderful uses of set-up and pay-offs for its jokes! But a good third of the jokes really didn’t land for me. I get it; it’s a kids movie. So the sloth-thing going “Dun dun DUUUUNNNN” is probably funny for kids. All four times. It’s just odd that in such a witty film a large chunk of the jokes feel like they were written just for kids in case they don’t get the rest of the humor. Which- I mean I’m not eight years old, so I could be wrong. But the rest of the humor felt pretty accessible…
One of the shining aspects of this film is its lead in Nicolas Cage (Grug), who I think lands every single joke he’s given in this movie, as well as the real heart of the themes. Cage has done voice work of course, but I haven’t seen- well, heard him lead a cast like this that I can think of. (Feel free to check that fact.) Anyway, yeah he does a really good job! The supporting cast is also really good! We’ve got now Oscar winner Emma Stone who I think really shines as Eep; Ryan Reynolds plaing a very Ryan Reynolds type with Guy (and that’s what you get him for, so it works.); and the rest of the cast is rounded out by strong performances from Catherine Keener, Cloris Leechman, and Clark Duke.
Last but not least! Actually it might be least… The animation style itself. Alot of this movie looks really good! And I know it’s already nine years old, but so many animated films especially from Dreakworks have aged better than this one. Often the animation looks very shiny and almost unfinished, which is interesting. If left me wondering if maybe this wasn’t really a big think in 2013 or they had a time crunch or it’s some other reason, but some of the animation just looked very rough. The rest was fine though! And I did really enjoy alot of the other creative aspects of the filmmaking here! Alan Silvestri’s score is awesome, and the uses of digital camerawork were very fun and engaging! I just wonder if this movie could have used a few more weeks in post-production.
All in all, I thought it was a fun movie. I wasn’t overly impressed, but I really enjoyed some of the strengths this film had to offer. Nicolas Cage was a treat, and not only did he carry the comedy best, but he really pulled off this film’s surprisingly strong themes. I think the humor overall and the animation style left me wanting a bit more from it, but thanks to a focused story, strong voice cast, and fun score, I thought it was probably one worth watching regardless. Is is one of the better films from Dreamworks? No probably not, but it’s a pretty enjoyable time! Solid 6/10.
So The Croods? Have you seen it? What did you think? And what is your favorite voice performance from Nicolas Cage? I ask because, if you didn’t know, we are in Nicolas Cage week! So stay tuned for a bunch more Cage-themes movies coming soon! Thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince