We observe life through the perspective of the adventurous and ambitious youngster Eep (Emma Stone), who feels she is being held back by her over-protective father Grug (Nicolas Cage); who remains adamant that the world is a dangerous place and in order to survive, the family – also consisting of Ugga (Catherine Keener), Thunk (Clark Duke) and Gran (Cloris Leachman) – must stick together. However once their humble abode – otherwise known as a cave – is destroyed, the family must embark on a trip to a new home, and when journeying through the unknown with their new audacious and forward-thinking companion Guy (Ryan Reynolds) they realise that perhaps there is more to life than they had envisaged, though Grug may need some convincing on the matter…
The Croods is not the first animation in recent months that focuses in on a young, ginger tomboy who is desperate to explore the world and escape from the overly protective grasp of her parents. However, unlike Brave – which had a great message to it being the first Pixar film to feature a female as the lead, and a hearty warrior at that – this unfortunately and unnecessarily attempts to sexualise Eep in her revealing one-piece outfit. She is also supplied with a superfluous romantic sub-narrative, conflicting somewhat from the feistiness of the character. That said, the voice cast all do a fine job in portraying their roles, with both Stone and Cage impressing the most. The director Sanders also gets involved, voicing the character of Belt – the customary random non-human role that seems to crop up in these movies (the Elves in Rise of the Guardians, the Minions in Despicable Me).
The feature suffers from having a forgettable, rather tedious opening act, and it does take a while to fully get into the plot. However by the time we have reached the final half an hour, the filmmakers have us back on side for a thrilling finale, though given the poor opening stages, they had to really work hard for it. The film is at its strongest when exploring the perennial themes of affection, jealousy, lust etc., in what is a touching, poignant reminder that natural human emotions remain the same despite the millions of years difference between the two ages. There’s even the disdain between a husband and his mother-in-law – forming the majority of the film’s lighter moments. The poignancy does outweigh the comedy however: this is a film that could certainly do with a few more palpable jokes.
Nonetheless, The Croods is a more than satisfying cinematic experience for the family, and one that looks great up on the big screen, as yet another example of 3D animation being implemented triumphantly. You know, with recent productions such as Life of Pi and Oz the Great and Powerful putting the technique to good use, perhaps it’s not quite so pointless as the sceptics first feared.
However, the film remains as a very conventional, somewhat formulaic animation, which although enjoyable in parts, doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the genre – and during a time when films such as Wall-E, Up and Paranorman are continuously pushing boundaries and striving for innovation, there aren’t really any excuses.