“The Croods” – Review by Zachary Marsh

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DreamWorks Animation can be a hit or miss studio when it comes to their films. While films like the ‘Kung Fu Panda‘ series, ‘How To Train Your Dragon,’ and ‘Megamind‘ proved that the famed studio was the same caliber as Pixar, other films like ‘Shrek The Third,’ ‘Monsters vs. Aliens,’ and ‘Rise of the Guardians‘ proved to be not as impressive. Now comes their latest animated feature entitled ‘The Croods.’ This film features the voices of stars including Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, and Ryan Reynolds. It also tells the story of a family of cavemen trying to survive this new world they’ve discovered. From the trailers, this seemed to be a ripoff of the ‘Ice Age’ films with cavemen as the central characters instead of prehistoric talking animals, as well as a weak storyline centering on an arguing father/daughter duo. Much to a surprise, this film was much more than a typical arguing family animated film.

Instead of really dumb humor, there were some surprisingly clever and intelligent jokes about families and the prehistoric era. Instead of a typical father/daughter story, the filmmakers decided to go into unexpected territories with it and make it something that’s rarely seen in films like this. When a voice cast can consist of A-list actors just for the sake of having A-list actors, the actors in this movie bring emotion and a kick to their voices, which help make the characters relatable, funny, and more empowering. To top it off, the animation in the film, along with the 3D, are polarizing and mesmerizing to watch, showing just how beautiful animation can be in this day in age. Overall, ‘The Croods’ exceeded expectations to bring a funny, sweet, visually stunning, and heartfelt family movie that deals with family issues in a good way.

The story centers around a family of cavemen named “The Croods.” Grug, the father, is very overprotective of his family and believes that his way of living is the only right way of living. Eep is a free spirit who wants to explore the world and disobey her father, whose stories of bears and such all ends in them dying due to disobeying. When the family cave gets destroyed, The Croods embark on a journey of survival from the supposed “end of the world.” The teller of this upcoming apocalypse is a mysterious explorer named Guy and his pet sloth named Belt. Together, The Croods and Guy take on a journey that’s greater than the changing world around them.

Without a doubt the strongest thing about this movie is the animation. Almost every shot of this movie is simply gorgeous to look at, especially in 3D. DreamWorks in my opinion is the single best animation studio in regards to 3D, because the ways they create their 3D movies take the audience and throws them into these stunning worlds and makes them stare in awe. The design of these characters, and even this prehistoric world, is a stunning achievement for the studio, and that’s saying something when comparing this to other recent animation spectacles like ‘Rise of the Guardians’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda 2.’ If you go to see this in 3D, I highly guarantee that you won’t regret it. Seeing it in 2D is fine, but the 3D in this film really immerses you and takes you into a magical prehistoric world unlike anything that’s been created before.

While most animated casts consist of A-list actors who are mostly in it for the sake of the paycheck, the voice actors in this movie actually lose themselves in their roles and make them their own. I honestly believe that Nicholas Cage was born to play a caveman in addition to all of the crazy roles he’s done over the span of his career. Believe it or not, though, Cage actually gives a subtle and solid vocal performance, almost in the style of Ray Romano’s Manny from the first ‘Ice Age’ film or John C. Reilly in ‘Wreck It Ralph.’ Emma Stone and Catherine Keener were also solid, but in all honesty their characters Eep and Ugga could have been played by anybody. Ryan Reynolds and Clark Duke were the best parts of the animated cast as Guy and Thunk respectively. Their roles had a sort of charisma that can only be found in light hearted animated movies, and their voices overall worked. I would love to see these guys in many more animated films in the near future. Cloris Leachman also managed to get some good laughs, especially in her constant bantering with Nick Cage. While her character was the typical old lady character in any movie in general, Leachman was able to make it her own and have the character be quite entertaining. That is the jest of all of the voice actors in the film. Most of them are solid and really entertaining, while others are generic and could have been played with anybody.

‘The Croods’ is not a perfect movie, but it is a nice breath of fresh air after a lot of disappointing movies to come out so far this year. The voice cast is great, especially Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, and Clark Duke. The animation and 3D is superb, with it enhancing the movie in many more ways than not. The writing has a lot of humor and a lot of heart despite some clichéd moments. Directors Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMico successively deliver a fun and strong animated feature that kids and adults will equally enjoy. If there has been a lack of good or appropriate kid’s movies to come out so far this year, look no further as ‘The Croods’ is a satisfying animated flick that looks to be the start of a beautiful and great partnership between DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox.



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