So Close and Yet So Far: ‘The Croods’ Plays it Safe and Misses Greatness for Goodness

The Croods is incredibly close to being a heartbreaking and profound statement about leaving behind old ways which would heavily resonate in today’s world, a world seemingly ripped between tradition and innovation.

But, someone decided it needed a happy ending and shot it right out of the air.

But forget about that.

Even with the misfired ending (which I won’t spoil, but you will know what I’m talking about when you see it), The Croods should serve as a continuing wake up call to Pixar that they are not the only big boys on the block anymore. Dreamworks, after a few… let’s call them… fishy missteps has matched the hopping lamp in terms of animation and storytelling. Also, their sequels are actually good. You listening, Pixar?

The Croods tells the story of a modern stone age family… only they aren’t modern at all. They are barely evolved apes who are scared of everything and have to go through entire ordeals just to get something to eat. So what are they supposed to do when their cave, their one go to safe haven in a world of man-eating animals, is destroyed in an earthquake?

The correct answer is “die,” but rather than becoming the shortest and darkest Dreamworks movie yet, they timidly go out into the world and run into Guy, an adventurous and more advanced caveman who seems to have all of the answers to their ills, so the Croods kidnap him and hold him prisoner hoping that he can lead them to safety.

The Croods is incredibly fun. It’s not as evolved (HA!) as some other animated fare as of late, but you can tell that its heart and mind is in the right place. Throughout the movie’s run, it’s basically about evolution, growth, curiosity, and the wonder of invention so the setting works very well with the concepts it plays with.

I also have to say that this is probably the best work I have seen Nicholas Cage do in years. I guess the key to reining him in all this time was to just outright turn him into a cartoon character.

The other voice actors are a great fit too. Ryan Reynolds as Guy, for example, brings in the mischievous charm while Emma Stone as Eep brings an energetic hyperactiveness that borders between cute and dangerous.

The animation is really top notch and beautiful, the world that The Croods creates is imaginative and wonderful, and the characters, even the unmovable old-fashioned ones, are all likeable folks you still want to see succeed. The story may be a little tired and unremarkable, but the strengths of the movie holds it up even though The Croods won’t be remembered as fondly as, say, How to Train Your Dragon or Kung-Fu Panda

Even if it’s not overly memorable, it’s still a load of fun and, in cases like this, “fun” is perfectly fine..

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