"Anything new is bad. Curiosity is bad. Going out at night is bad. Basically, anything fun is bad. Welcome to my world! But this is a story about how all that changed in an instant."
The Croods is one of those animated films that kids will love, but adults will barely find amusing. Kids will pretty much enjoy anything, even co-director Kirk De Micco's previous film Space Chimps. I on the other hand was completely disappointed with this film considering the other co-director involved here was Chris Sanders, who brought us the highly acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon (now that is a sequel I'm really looking forward to). I didn't have a problem with the visuals here, because they were great, but my major issue with this film had to do with the story. The Croods suffers from a completely formulaic narrative where you have the young daughter wanting to go out and experiencing life, while the over protective father doesn't allow it. Last year's Pixar film, Brave, dealt with this very same issue and I personally feel a bit tired of it. These animated films have a history of putting up children against their parents and always giving them the reason. Usually it's the parent that has to change his ways and learn the lesson from their younger child. I understand that this is what is appealing to kids, but pretty much every film targeted towards them is appealing (they won't even hesitate to watch The Smurfs movies again). I am used to these cliched stories and usually forgive them if the film has clever characters with funny dialogues, but The Croods has neither. I don't remember laughing at any scene, and I don't think any of these characters is really memorable.
The story focuses on a family of cavemen whose patriarch, Grug (Nicolas Cage) has kept everyone safe thanks to his extreme rules. He has shielded them from the outside world and kept them inside the cave for most of their lives, only abandoning the cave to collect some food for a few minutes every three or four days. Grug lives with his partner Ugga (Catherine Keener) and her mother Gran (Cloris Leachman). They have two kids: Eep (Emma Stone) and Thunk (Clark Duke), and a young baby. Everyone seems content with Grug's rules, except for Eep who is desperate to explore the outside world. One night after following a strange light out of her cave she runs into a nomad named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) who has discovered how to make fire. Guy is an inventive individual who has managed to survive in the outside world on his own. He warns Eep that the world is coming to an end and that they should head to the high lands. When Grug sees that Eep is missing they immediately go find her and bring her back to the cave, but before they can arrive Guy's predictions come true. Now the entire family will have to embark on a journey with Guy and discover a whole new world while facing the threats in the outdoors.
There are several interesting action scenes in The Croods and some beautiful visuals (although nothing as near as beautiful as Pixar's Brave) as they explore and are in awe of this new world. None of the characters here are developed very well and most of the film centers around Grug and Eep. The story does begin to pick up with the introduction of Guy who reminds us of the power of new ideas and the importance of being creative. Unfortunately the film isn't creative with its narrative and that is what left me disappointed. The vocals here were done pretty well with Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, and Emma Stone standing out mostly because their characters are basically the only ones who have much screen time. The Croods isn't a film the entire family will enjoy, but I am sure the kids will have a blast because it involves outdoor exploration and has plenty of action. I was expecting this film to be a lot funnier, but nothing really stands out.