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All children, at least in some ways, are Neanderthals. Parenthood’s grand challenge is to civilize these sometimes savage young beings by teaching them language, etiquette, and safety. Some of the most difficult decisions parents must make involve encouraging children to be strong, bold, independent, and adventuresome when it comes to achieving objectives in school, sports, and housework while safeguarding them from mistakes that could be cruel or even devastating.
That’s the premise of “The Croods,” a charming animated film about an ancient cave family. In the Paleolithic context, where the most basic necessities necessitate everyone’s undivided attention, familiar family relationships are amusingly exaggerated. The characters designed by the incredibly funny Carter Goodrich (“Despicable Me,” “Hotel Transylvania”) may argue, but their hunting/gathering adventures highlight the strength of their friendship.
When this family goes out for breakfast, they go out for breakfast. Parents Grug (Nicolas Cage) and Ugga (Catherine Keener), Ugga’s mother, Gran (Cloris Leachman), and their three children work fluidly together in a delightfully orchestrated sprint to collect food, somewhere between extreme dodgeball, an obstacle course, and a rugby game. Even the happiest wild newborn joins in on a critical maneuver. Also, you must try to play this Which The Croods Character Are You quiz.
Which The Croods Character Are You?
Aside from that, they live in a cold, dark cave. None of their community’s other families have survived, and Grug is scared of anything he can’t control. As a result, he informs his family that “curiosity is evil, and everything new is bad.” His full-time job is to keep everyone alive. “Never be afraid,” he cautions them. “Fear is what keeps us alive.”
“I will never do something fresh or different,” son Thunk promises (Clark Duke). However, rebellious teenagers may be traced back to protective fathers, and Eep (Emma Stone) wishes to see the world beyond the cave. Eep perceives what Grug sees as safe and under control as uninteresting and old-fashioned.
Guy, a stranger, is a part of that larger world (Ryan Reynolds). He has many new ideas, such as tools, shoes, a “belt” (a monkey with a theatrical flair for flourish), and “baby suns” — fire. Eep is eager to learn more. And soon, Grug will have to make changes when the tectonic plates beneath him begin to shift. Staying the same is no longer a viable option. The family must relocate in order to find a new home. Grug must understand that being new isn’t always a terrible thing. And Eep must learn to appreciate what she already has.
Kids will love outwitting the Neanderthals, whose knowledge of the world is so poor that they believe dried grass can extinguish the fire. They’ll like Guy as a proto-MacGyver who teaches his traveling companions how to use rocks, vines, and leaves — as well as strategy — to capture food and protect themselves from predators. As Grug and his family leave their rocky home, they encounter new landscapes that are progressively stunning, with wonderfully conceived vistas and lush vegetation. Those photos neatly parallel Grug’s and his family’s widening minds and spirits.
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Despite a few too many mother-in-law jokes, “The Croods” nicely illustrates how crucial it was for families to cherish and protect each other even before they had a fire. Eep tells us that what appears to be adolescent obstinacy and folly may simply be the next phase in our progress.
The film only pauses to ram a message down your neck about how beneficial change is. The topic is fine and ultimately innocuous, but it may be amusing at times. With a predictable cast of characters – the rebellious daughter yearning for a more interesting life, a conservative but loving father, an idiot brother, and a charming and mysterious love interest – The Croods is more formulaic than the filmmakers would like to admit, though animated films aren’t exactly known for defying convention.
The Croods is a pleasant trip for the whole family that is good but not exceptional. It won’t go down in history as one of the more inventive animated pictures, but there’s no doubting that it’s entertaining.