I went into The Croods fully expecting the sort of banal, child-focused humor that all too often plagues such films (see Hotel Transylvania for a perfect example). Granted, The Croods is actually rated PG, so there’s at least a modicum of hope ((Although then again, so was Hotel Transylvania…)).
The trailers only cemented that feeling, long on sight gags and juvenile humor and short on depth. But it turns out that all of the worst such parts were already in the trailer. Spread over an entire hour and a half, they were far more enjoyable or at worst ignoreable. And better yet, unlike in Hotel Transylvania the jokes revolved around the cavemen acting like cavemen, not around adults acting like children.
One caveat that you have to realize going in is that this film does not–and should not–take place in any recognizable configuration of real world history. The Croods are overly stereotypical cavemen yet Guy seems every bit a modern man. The environment is full of hyper intelligent sloths, brightly colored four winged turtle-birds, flying piranhas, and fast-moving carnivorous plants. The only vaguely explained cataclysm that chases them them through out the movie would have–in real life–overtaken them in moments. Still, if you can get past this and just enjoy the scenery, it’s a beautiful and amusingly thought out world.
The best part of the movie is the final stretch when Grug has to either evolve ((In the sense of grow and change, not the Darwinian version)) or go extinct. He faces what I’d assume are every father’s worst nightmares–his family is in danger and his daughter is growing away from him–and he just doesn’t understand. I won’t spoil the ending (although is is still a children’s movie, so it’s kind of obvious what has to happen…), but needless to say, it’s powerful.
One amusing point to note is that I didn’t actually notice that Grug (the father) was played by Nicolas Cage until about half way through the movie. Of course, once I realized that it was him, his voice suddenly became extremely Cage’y–I just couldn’t shake it. It didn’t really both me though. Unlike what seems to be a rather vocal subset of people, I generally enjoy movies he’s in. Also Emma Stone as the daughter and Ryan Reynolds as the boyfriend were well cast. Neither has quite as distinct a voice, at least from my point of view, but in hindsight both were great choices.
In any case, never would have I expected Django to be unseated by an animated flick, particularly not the Croods. But in the same vein as where I first got this idea1, these ratings are based on how much I enjoyed the movie. And I really enjoyed the Croods. It may well be one of the best animated flicks I’ve seen in the last few years–and that includes the recent run of Pixar movies. If you know me at all, that really is saying something… If you have a chance, go see this while it’s still in theaters. I didn’t see it in 3D, but for once I’d almost be tempted.
Ranked: 2013 Movie Reviews
- Pacific Rim
- Iron Man 3
- The Croods
- Thor: The Dark World
- Star Trek Into Darkness
- Monsters University
- Ender's Game
- Man of Steel
- Django Unchained
- World War Z
- Despicable Me 2
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
- Parental Guidance
- The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
- Beautiful Creatures
- Jurassic Park (3D!)
- The Wolverine
- Oz the Great and Powerful
- Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
- Jack the Giant Slayer
- Warm Bodies
- Don Jon
- G.I. Joe: Retaliation
- Pain & Gain
- It’s interesting to check out his rankings; for example, we agreed on the Croods but are diametrically opposed on Hansel & Gretel and Warm Bodies [return]