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The Croods  : They’re Kinda Cute
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Friday, April 19, 2013
Animation Film
Kirk DeMicco, Chris Sanders
Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Cloris Leachman, Chris Sanders, Randy Thorn
It’s what we in India call “wholesome family entertainment”. With super fine animation, the characters turn practically human and our world looks truly awesome when you see it through the eyes of a caveman and his family. A simple summation: the Croods are sweet, delightful and perhaps, identifiable.

The plot: Dad Grug (‘baritoned’ by Nicholas Cage) is so protective, his instructions are etched in stone...err, quite literally. You must fear anything unknown, anything new must be bad, you can’t climb to the top, you can’t go out of the cave after dark, you can’t...you just can’t have fun, in short. Sure-footed daughter Eep (voiced by Emma Stone) has adventure in her veins and she’s the pouty defiant teen who’ll sneak off at night to catch a glimpse of the sunlight/moonlight/plain fire at the forbidden top. When Eep meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), sparks fly ’tween them and he’s the brainy one who’ll ultimately guide the Croods to a bright, safe tomorrow when their world caves in around them. Of course the all-brawn, no brain Grug can’t stand Guy; certainly not his chemistry with darling daughter Eep. But not for long as the Croods are tossed into a new world for a happy family ending.  
The good: Grug’s so well-intentioned that you don’t mind his old world chauvinism. Not when he so protectively envelopes his whole family under his burly arms at bedtime or when he gets just a drop for breakfast and says good-naturedly, “Never mind. I ate last week.” All the characters bring a smile to the face – the crotchety old Gran (Cloris Leachman) with her ubiquitous stick who has a running feud with Grug; Grug who gets a devilish gleam at the thought of Gran’s death; even the Baby who bites and the Belt (this is an animated one around Guy’s waist/shoulder/wherever) bring clever comic interludes intermittently. The screenplay (Chris Sanders, Kirk De Micco) is fun, dotted with all the usual emotions that run in a family, with a musical score by Alan Silvestri that’s rhythmic and peppy.

The new discoveries (eg when Eep likes her dad’s tight embrace, he says he’ll call it “a hug” because it rhymes with “Grug” or when Eep screeches, “I love it” at her new shoes) are endearing.
Most of all, it’s the brilliant Dreamworks Animation (cinematography, art direction et al) that brings the Croods as alive as Shrek or the Lion King. It makes you wistful about India’s amateur animations (the Ganesha series for example) that don’t seem to have progressed beyond school-level quality.  
The bad: If you must nitpick, it’s the same sweet sentiments of familial bonds and nothing’s wrong as long as the heart’s ticking from the right spot. And yes, it’s a traditional, linear tale with dads and guys as protectors, the women only whimper and simper. Even the adventures of the feisty ma-in-law or Eep don’t go beyond wide-eyed dalliances with the opposite sex.

Overall: If you’re okay with 3D glasses, you’ll find The Croods pretty cool.

– Bharathi S Pradhan

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