It is weird seeing a Dreamworks Animation film with a Fox logo – especially one that basically is teaching children to ignore their fear obsessed parents and evolve. To try new things, and you’ll discover that your parents will slowly come around. It is true, it just isn’t a very FOX thing, ya know.
I love Caveman animation and film projects. I don’t care if it is CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR, QUEST FOR FIRE, ONE MILLION B.C. or ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. Or if it is A MAN CALLED FLINTSTONE or any number of animated shorts from all animation companies… there’s just something fun about primordial man. Roland Emmerich tried to tackle it a while back – and other than inspiring me to go off on a KA-ZAR rant, I was having fun with the title. That said, I can’t wait for a truly great pre-man movie – and I was certainly open to the notion of a family animated Caveman flick.
Happily, the film is far better than expected. I feel the great success of the film has a lot to do with Nicolas Cage’s caveman father Grug. Grug is a caveman that has lived his life adhering to being guided by FEAR. FEAR that doing anything new could lead to DEATH! He’s seen all the Cave People he’s known die due to breaking one of his fear based rules. All the stories that he tells his family start with the promise of discovery and lead with the bloody hand print which indicates DEATH – and there’s something about Cage’s voice that sells it even more than the animation. Cage’s wife is Ugga, voiced by Catherine Keener and she backs him up traditionally. They have 3 kids, Sandy the baby voiced by Sound legend, Randy Thom. When you hear Cage say, “Release the baby” – RAISING ARIZONA should flood back into your memory banks resulting upon a jackpot of shiny pearly white teeth in a shit eating grin. There’s a young boy that believes everything his father tells him named Thunk, voiced by Clark Duke.
Then there’s Emma Stone’s EEP – she’s the eldest child, a late teens daughter that hates the dark cold cave. She has a yearning to explore – and this terrifies her father, whom she’s driven nearly neurotic by her dangerous explorations. But it is her curiosity that saves the family… including the eldest of them all, Gran – voiced by Cloris Leachman – which makes Grug’s cringing at her, “Still Alive!” declarations all the funnier.
As a family, they’re pretty primitive – pre-fire, pre-meat eating. They’re scavengers and egg thieves. Never daring anything more out of fear of… DEATH!
One night, Eep notices a light through the crack of the boulder blocking the caven entrance. It is a light from out of the darkness of night. A darkness that in all her years, she’s never once before seen broken. This tempts her curiosity to the breaking point. She squeezes out in pursuit of the light. This is how we’re introduced to Ryan Reynolds’ GUY – a perfect name for perfect casting.
Guy is the exact opposite of THE CROODS. He’s had to fend for himself for a very long time. Surviving through adaptation and innovation. He has discovered the great calamity of their times and is following the light of the Sun upon his own ‘belief’ system. Discovering him and fire – and hearing about a great doom, makes Emma Stone’s Eep a stronger voice in her family.
Now all of this is the opening of the film. Once the calamity comes and the family is forced on the road – Cage’s GRUG is suddenly left hanging onto a life built on FEAR of the new and the unknown – and he has to guide his family through it… or even worse, he has to trust GUY – who embodies new and unknown constantly to his early caveman knowledge.
But the journey they must take to the great mountain they can see in the distance. It is truly a grass is greener type of thing.
I hope THE CROODS is a tremendous success for Dreamworks Animation and Fox. I think Fox’s animation distribution and PR arm has been phenomenal world wide. If this release can feed into that kind of success, we may get a series of CROODS movies – and frankly, I wouldn’t be sad. Where these characters are at the end of the film… they’re a fascinating set of Caveman adventurers.
Or maybe someone should just finally make the big THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN CG animated series.
The 3D on this film is stunning. The valley The Croods discover in their fleeing journey is very visually eye-popping! But I feel that Emma Stone’s EEP and Cage’s GRUG will be the winners for taking you on this emotional family upheaval. They stick together and always have each other’s back. As for Ryan’s Guy, I don’t envy any man trying to date Nicolas Cage’s Caveman Father’s daughter. It certainly is fun to watch.
The audience I saw this with really had a blast with the film. This is another really good film out of DREAMWORKS ANIMATION. Good Job!