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The Croods

Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 86th Annual Academy Awards

Yeah, it works well enough. It’s not going to win the Oscar in this category, and it’s not breaking any exciting new ground—but it’s nimble and just a little bit smart. I liked the family dynamic, and the voice work is just fine. The plot is thin, but perfect fodder for some maniacal chase scenes that keeps things fun and frothy. Nicolas Cage is Grug Crood, the patriarch, and his unusual speaking style compliments the character well. Emma Stone does some solid vocal performing as Eep, the rebellious daughter of the clan. Catherine Keener is Grug’s wife Ugga. Clark Duke is Thunk Crood, Eep’s dopey brother(because one sibling always has to be smart while the other one is dumb in these things, right?). Ryan Reynolds is clan interloper, Guy, who assists in saving The Crood family from the end-of-the-world. And isn’t it nice to still find Oscar-winning actress, Cloris Leachman working(as Grandma Crood)as we inch ever closer to her 88th birthday? Overall, there’s nothing all that inspired in “The Croods”, but it ambles through its expected histrionics rather well.

Eep Crood(Ms. Stone)is wearying of her overprotective Dad(Mr. Cage), who barely allows his clan to wander away from their cave home, and warden-like puts the entire family in lockdown when the sun disappears. Too dangerous out there…to many things to hurt you, or worse. But teenage Eep is looking to branch out and explore as her curiosity expands with her years, and she sneaks out of the safety of their stone domicile one night to discover what she can. Upon witnessing an unusual light source, Eep meets Guy—a dreamy, inventive caveboy, who has apparently created fire. Frightened, but fascinated by his torch, Eep stands enraptured as Guy espouses his theory that the world is coming to an end, and that Eep and her family must trust and follow him. Eventually, after a cataclysmic event, the family does go with Guy—and the bulk of the remainder of the movie has them all dodging earthquakes, carnivorous creatures and “inescapable” tar flows.

Directors/screenwriters Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders keep the pace brisk and the jokes sharp, and make sure to occasionally throw in those ringers that only the adults in the audience will understand. The colors are bright and the characters are distinctive, and if it never raises the bar all that much, it also avoids falling flat on its face. It’s the only 2013 Animated Feature nominee I’ve seen, so far, but I’ll have a review coming up for “Despicable Me 2” very soon. I’m pretty certain “Frozen” will remain the favorite to garner that Oscar on March 2nd, but I will hold out some hope for an upset by Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises”. “The Croods” experience was an enjoyable one, though. I bet it looked great it 3D, but it works without the glasses, as well. Hey, and it’s available on Netflix streaming now. That’s how I viewed it, so why not give it a try.    Grade: B-

next review up:  “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”

 

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2 comments on “The Croods

  1. Good review Mark. When I heard about this getting nominated for an Oscar, I was very surprised. Not because it was bad or anything, but because it seemed too goofy and slight to actually be considered a “contender”, but hey, can’t say I’m too upset about it neither.

  2. Thanks, Dan. It IS slight, but it’s just good enough to be passable. “Frozen” probably has the category locked up, but one can always hope for the great Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises”. But I doubt it’ll pull off the upset. ML

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