02nd Jan2014

‘The Croods’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars (the voices of): Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Chris Sanders | Written and Directed by Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders

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In all honesty I wasn’t expecting much from The Croods, after all Dreamworks are very hit and miss when it comes to CG animated flicks. For every Puss in Boots (which I loved) there’s a Sharks Tale, for every Shrek there’s a Shrek Forever After… But spurred on by the TV adverts for the DVD release and that cute little furball shouting “Da da dah!” I decided to give the film a go. And I guess it was such low expectations that lead to me really enjoying the film – well that and some ridiculous one-liners, well-timed visual gags and it’s surprisingly tear-jerking and heart-warming story!

Featuring an all-star voice cast, including Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds and Nicolas Cage, The Croods comes from the producers of the popular Madagascar series and follows the world’s first family as they embark on a journey of a lifetime when the cave that has always shielded them from danger is destroyed. Traveling across a spectacular landscape, the Croods discover an incredible new world filled with fantastic creatures and new friends, changing their outlook on “life” forever.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that The Croods is another rehash of The Flintstones – after all it features yet another caveman family with an overbearing father, long-suffering wife and a red-headed daughter (even if this one is a lot older than Pebbles). However you’d be wrong. Yes, the film starts out as a typical prehistoric tale, with the family trying to survive the perils of freakish cro-magnon monsters that put them way down the food chain, but the film takes a turn part-way through the first half as The Croods’ home is destroyed and they team up with a more worldy-wise and technologically advanced (if you count shoes, fire, and a mammalian belt) to chase the sun and the safety which it purportedly provides.

There’s a real sense of size and scope to The Croods that hasn’t been seen in similar prehistoric animated movies such as the Ice Age films: the massive landscapes and the strange and bizarre creatures all work to create a real world within the film. So much so that when the land is rocked by tectonic shifts you can’t help but feel for the family losing their home and everything they know and love… But it’s not just the heart-strings that the film plucks on (although as a grown man I have no problem telling you the films final moments, and the sacrifice that is made, brought a tear to my hardened eye). Nope, The Croods balances out the pathos with hilarity – be it “Belt”, the mammal turned trouser holder or Thunk’s prat-falls, and who would have thought that even in the prehistoric era that mother-in-law jokes made for damn fine humour!

A film that perfectly balances humour and heartbreak, all the while fulfilling the “family movie” quota to a tee (this really is a film for everyone), The Croods is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.

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