Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Croods

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The movie is about cavemen so we're suppose to assume they're stupid but I've met members of the Tea Party that make cavemen look like members of MENSA.

  The Croods – 4 out of 5

Cavemen are always funny. That’s a fact. I mean just look at the Geico commercials and subsequent series based on those fun loving caveme—wait, bad example. Um…how about the movie Quest for Fire? That film was filled with hilarity—wait…no it wasn’t. Unless you count cavemen rape and Ron Perlman as a primitive man funny and, if you do, you’re probably a shitty comic who thinks doing rape and racist jokes make you "edgy." Those two bad examples aside, The Croods is an example of a funny piece of fiction involving cavemen and, even more amazingly, it retroactively erases all memory from our collective unconscious that some moron TV executive thought it would be a good idea to take an unfunny commercial and make a series about it…okay, I made that last part up.

This pic provides more laughs than the entire Caveman TV series had.

The Croods takes place in a fictionalized Pliocene era that is, creatively called, The Croodaceous period and it focuses on a family of cavemen who are just doing what cavemen did back then (quiet, I heard you just utter a joke about saving money on car insurance—yes, you, the bearded man in Connecticut. I heard you say that and it wasn’t funny). Survival is the name of the game for Grug (Nicky Cage—we’re buddies, I can call him Nicky) and his family: His wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), his mother-in-law Gran (Cloris Leachman), his ravenous baby, his son Thunk (Clark Duke) and his idealistic and dreamer of a daughter Eep (Emma Stone). Their world of hiding in their cave at night and striving for food during the day comes to a crashing halt when Eep meets an odd caveboy named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) who brings with him strange things called ideas. He introduces them to fire and other inventions (like the belt—which is a sloth) and warns them that the world is coming to an end. Suddenly, shifting tectonic plates destroys the Croods’ cave and they are forced to join Guy in trying to reach a safe area…but nothing can prepare them for the dangerous, but wondrous, world they are about to experience.

And speaking of dangerous but wondrous, Guy would go on to invent Taco Bell.

When I first saw the trailer for this film, I thought it looked okay but it didn’t look like an animated film for the whole family; it looked like a movie that was geared entirely towards children. However, I was surprised how wrong I was because the movie is very entertaining, amazingly well animated and acted, humorous and very touching. It took some adjusting when I first started the movie because the creatures in the film are so fictitiously fantastic that it was a tad jarring to see birds with two sets of wings, saber-tooth tigers that look like their mother got freaky with a parrot and elephant mice. I’m no natural history museum guide with two hours of training but I’m sure most of the animals—if not all—didn't exist. However, once I accepted that this film is taking place in an entirely made up era of history, I just sat back and had fun with the film.

Ram Birds?  Man, animals were freaky in prehistoric times.

Okay, I'll be honest, the parrot/saber-tooth tiger was
pretty freakin' cool.
First off, the animation is amazing! The backgrounds, the character movement, the creature designs—all of these elements work in concert to make an animated movie that looks like a feast of beauty for the eyeballs. After I got over the initial shell shock of the fantastic world the Croods lived in, all I saw was one amazing visual after another as the backgrounds just look incredible and are very creatively put together. This level of creativity is mirrored in the design of the strange beasts and predators that litter the film’s story.

The ribcage, nature's xylophone.

The cast is great in the movie and each actor really makes their character work well. Whether it is Clark Duke making Thunk extremely timid and unsure or Cloris Leachman being hysterical as Gran, every player is giving their all in the film.  This is one of those animated movies where the cast fits the character and not where you wonder, "Why the fuck was that person chosen for the role?" There’s no better example of this than Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone and Nicky-boo Cage (I can call him that, we’re besties).

I suppose I could add a joke here that Cloris Leachman, having lived in the time,
acted as technical advisor for the film (Get it?  Because she's old.).

But I won't add it because that joke would be lame.

Stone carries the film tremendously as the naturally curious and adventurous Eep and she really carries these aspects of the character perfectly. Stone is already a terrific actress but you easily feel her excitement as Eep gets to see new sights and you really can hear how quickly she’s become enamored with the character Guy played by Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds is also very entertaining as Guy and perfectly encapsulates the quiet, unintentional arrogance that ends up rubbing the patriarch of the Crood family the wrong way.

At first you want to crush them with a rock and the next second you love them...
story as old as time, my friends.

However, one of my favorite members of the cast in this film had to have been Nicky-wicky Cage (I can call him that, we’re BFFs). I know Cage has become somewhat of a walking joke on the ‘net but I’ve always enjoyed the man. Yes, he overacts but he makes overacting an art form that no one else can even begin to replicate. However, the character of Grug plays to Cage’s strengths…yelling, being really intense and acting all sorts of fun-crazy. Also, in all seriousness, there is a very touching side to the character as Grug is really driven to protect his family and Nic Cage really shines in these scenes. Sure, the animators do all the work with the character’s facial features and body movements to help convey the character’s emotional state but without Cage’s very strong voice acting backing it up, the character wouldn’t have been as emotional or attention grabbing.


The Croods really surprised me. I sat down with little to no real expectations for the film other than a movie that would probably be mildly amusing as I watch colorful characters slap, fight and fall down but the film was much more. Yes, a lot of the humor is the repetitive gag about primitive cavemen discovering new things from a thinner, younger and more intelligent nomad (and yes, there is a lot of slapstick thrown in too) but it’s still funny nonetheless. Not to mention the strong thematic elements of family and the bonds we share with them added an emotionally powerful element to the film that reaches near Pixar levels (but, unlike Pixar, this movie didn’t make me cry like a little kid who just watched the family dog get ran over by an ice cream truck). Overall, The Croods is just a great animated movie that is fun for the whole family. 

It's especially fun for rapid babies that hang out with sloth-riding crocodile dogs.
This movie went for a ridiculously specific audience.

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