You really have to hand it to DreamWorks; often considered second fiddle to the mastery of the CG craft that is Pixar, these guys just continue to release solid family flick after solid family flick. Known as the “money studio”, The Croods is a good example of genuinely clever writing and a solid story carrying a piece over just an inflated budget being used to force advertising down our proverbial throats.
Released back in March of 2013 domestically, The Croods was created on a budget of $135-mil, it’s been a smashing commercial success having taken in well over 587-million and counting. Never ones to let a franchise opportunity pass them by, DreamWorks already has plans for a sequel and ongoing television series (following in the footsteps of franchises like the Penguins of Madagascar, King-Fu Panda, Monsters Vs. Aliens, How to Train Your Dragon and so on) in the works.
The film loosely follows the exploits of teenage cave-girl Eep (Emma Stone) who, in addition to dealing with all of the nonsense that comes with being a human teenager (including alienation from her family, self-discovery and so on), she has the unfortunate distinction of going through puberty during the stone-age. Worse still, her family (The Croods) aren’t even the “sharper” of the two quickly evolving human species running around. Nowhere is this more evident than when the dreamy (to Eep anyway) Guy (Ryan Reynolds) comes on the scene with a more upright walking position, lesser forehead and a whole host of useful inventions/ discoveries to share.
This would be a win/win if not for Eep’s father Grug (Nicolas Cage) who, in addition to suddenly discovering his gene pool is in the losing end of the whole survival of the fittest thing; his very manhood becomes threatened when this new hotshot continually shows him up in front of his family. As you might expect, Grug is frustrated and purposely obstinate to his physical detriment time and time again.
The pace of the film is surprisingly brisk and becomes an action piece right on through to its fruition shortly after we’re introduced to the characters. Visually, the film is beautiful with a rich color pallet and textures absolutely rife with the perfect amount of detail to hint toward otherworldliness. As you might suspect, the scale of many of the yet evolving plants and animals occupying planet earth are, well, off the scale.
Perhaps most interestingly, the film takes us to a land where many fantastical but lethal evolutionary hybrids dwell, stalk and hunt. Among these the half dog/ crocodilian called a Crocopup or the colorfully feathered and furred half parrot/ half saber tooth tiger Macawnivore (that quite frankly looks like it may have been lifted and transplanted directly from James Cameron’s alien world in Avatar). This results in amazing replay value whereby what’s going on in the background can be as enjoyable to spot as the main prose for multi-time viewers.
Interestingly, the runaway success that is The Croods actually began life as a proposed five-part film deal from Claymation geniuses Aardman (hilariously titled Crood Awakening). It’s also the first DreamWorks piece to have been distributed by 20th Century Fox (their prior films were distributed by Paramount Pictures).
In conclusion, The Croods will likely appeal to viewers of all interests with its witty writing (especially the subtle scientifically accurate gags), the fast pace and wonderfully unique environments. While it’s clear DreamWorks is wasting no time in riding the wave of the film’s popularity, one can hardly blame them considering the end results here.
Often has Dreamworks animation been called the ‘poor man’s Pixar’ and yet, these days, even Pixar has their misses. Well, agree with me or not, Dreamworks has given Pixar its much needed competition, and sporting spectacular animation and a good sense of humor, “The Croods” is another exercise that is familiar and yet, it gives its viewers a lot of things to like about it. … more