Directors: Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders
Starring: (Voices) Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke
Written by: Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders
Running Time: 98 mins
Release date: 22nd March 2013
The Croods is the new animated feature from Dreamworks, the team who released Shrek. Those days seem a long way off when watching this because, in my humble opinion, this has to be the laziest animated film I have ever seen. Not that the animation is lazy, just everything else is.
The Croods are a family of Neanderthals living in a cave in prehistoric times. Father Grug is very protective of his clan, not trusting anything and always making sure they are safe in the confines of their cave. His eldest daughter, Eep, wants more from life and plans to explore beyond the cave. One night, she sees something flickering outside. On investigation, she meets Guy, a young hip caveman with adventure in his heart. Grug, angry she left the cave, disapproves of Guy and his carefree ways but when their cave is destroyed, they have to go hunting for a new safe haven, a two peaked mountain, leading to all kinds of misadventures.
Let’s get the positives out of the way. The animation is excellent, no doubting that. There is plenty of vibrant colours to please the eyes, like someone had thrown up a bag of mushed Skittles. There’s even one moment when you forget it’s CGI, it looks so real. Even the 3D is fine. At least writers and directed Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders know how to do 3D. It’s everything else they struggle with.
This borrows from so many other previous animations, you could probably play a game of bingo by ticking off the films as they come. The story, as weak and uninvolving as it is, has the theme of over protected father/daughter issues (Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Mulan). Eep has flowing red hair (Brave), they have to find a safe haven in prehistoric times (Ice Age…all of them).
The biggest copy is, of course, The Flintstones. Instead of using dinosaurs to recreate modern devices, they create hybrid monsters, so we get mice with elephants heads or giant cats with large teeth. In fact the only time the film really works is when it mimics modern life. For example, Guy makes Eep a pair of boots and she screams like an excited teenager. Very funny. Only problem is, there isn’t enough moments like this.
This is another problem. The film just isn’t funny enough. I know it’s not aimed at an adult audience but most animations have plenty to keep both young and old amused. Here we get some slapstick for the kids and the occasional gag for the oldies but they are few and far between. There’s an overlong chase sequence that goes nowhere, a few modern references and a sloth called Belt who makes the famous three note dramatic music…four times. Once was funny, four times, not.
The characters are not well developed either. It’s not enough to have a famous person as the voice, you have to like the characters. Nicolas Cage as Grug and Emma Stone as Eep are fine but we know very little about everyone else, mother voiced by Catherine Keener and brother Thunk, voiced by Clark Duke, that if you took them out, no one would care or notice.
As a piece of undemanding nonsense for the Easter holidays for the kids, it will do its job fine but the adults will fine it tiresome and boring. If you watched the trailer thinking this is going to be a laugh-riot, then you’ve already seen the funniest bits. Trust me, there are no more. The Croods could have been a blast. Instead it’s a dud and one that will find an audience for the first week, then watch it become extinct.