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Thursday, March 28, 2013 11:04 am

Change is good in The Croods

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Guy and Eep voiced by Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone in The Croods.

While Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders’ The Croods shows you can teach an old caveman new tricks, it also drives home the point that some things never change, namely that teenagers will rebel and that fathers have had a hard time letting go of their little girls for time immemorial. Clever and at times a visual knockout, the film is quite smart in the way it combines modern social concerns with evolution theories and the notion that being adaptable is a quality as vital today as it was in prehistoric times.

You really can’t blame the teenage cave-girl Eep (voice by Emma Stone) from wanting to breakaway from her close-knit family. Her overprotective dad Grug (Nicolas Cage) requires that they all sleep together, literally, in a tangle so he can keep track of everyone and he only lets them out of their tightly sealed cave every three days or so, when their food has run out. What with neighbor families having been eaten by large were-cats or all dying because of disease, you can understand where he’s coming from. However, everything changes when Eep ventures out one night and meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a more evolved human who has good news and bad news. The good is that he’s in possession of this nifty new thing called fire. The bad is that he lets the Croods know that the end of the world is coming, and unlike our modern street-corner crackpots, he’s right.

Yep, the climate is changing – landforms are shifting, the weather’s in flux, the usual stuff – and when the Croods’ cave is destroyed as a result, they’re forced to venture forth with their new acquaintance. The film kicks into high gear then. They leave their dark, dank valley and venture into a beautiful but dangerous paradise. The screen explodes with color as the palette of the entire movie changes and it’s quite something to see. The new 3-D format is at its best in animated features, and The Croods is a perfect example of this. An early sequence in which a football game breaks out as the family attempts to steal a large egg and a later scene in which Guy distracts a flock of man-eating birds with a single torch are spectacular, vibrant examples of the sort of dynamic, in-your-lap visuals this format is capable of.

The movie is at its funniest when it underscores the differences between the Neanderthal-like Croods and Guy, who’s obviously one step above them on the evolutionary scale. But what’s most surprising is the poignant turn the story takes as a noble sacrifice is made and all involved realize that while change is difficult, it’s inevitable. Being able to adapt is the difference between life and death. To be sure, their journey runs a bit long but all in all, while I would never want to eat with them, meeting the Croods was a far more pleasant experience than I expected.  

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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