The Croods is a 3D computer-animated adventure comedy featuring a plethora of voice talent such as Emma Stone and Nicolas Cage. It’s set in a fictional prehistoric era and focuses on a family of cavemen: father (Grug), mother (Ugga), teen daughter (Eep), middle son (Thunk), toddler daughter (Sandy) and maternal grandmother (Gran). It’s a U rated kid-friendly movie but, as with many children’s films these days, there is an extra layer of complexity for the adults.
The film starts with Eep’s teenage litany of complaints about their home cave being really boring. To be fair, it is a tad boring spending several days in a dark cave with brief emergences to hunt down food. She’s desperate to hang out in the sunshine and, one night, sneaks out to find the source of some intriguing light. Of course, that turns out to be a cute caveboy, Guy, who gives her a shell ‘phone’ and asks her to call him. Doubly of course, the phone gets confiscated (read: utterly smashed to pieces) and Eep gets grounded. So far, so modern!
Unfortunately for dad, that’s when things go pear-shaped. In line with real prehistory, their world, as they know it, is about to end – ground-shaking, ash-spewing, creature-chasing, chasm-caving end of an era stuff. Fortunately for Eep, her new boyfriend knows the way to ‘Tomorrow’ and a brighter future for all of them.
The film tracks the family’s journey from their home cave to a new safe haven. It charts the highs and lows of typical family interaction, acquiring new pets and the huge changes that Grug makes, adapting from a stone-age ‘me, head of family, nothing I can’t solve with my fists’ mentality to a modern embracing of new ideas and an ‘okay, maybe my daughter’s boyfriend isn’t that bad’ acceptance.
Last Thursday, I watched a preview copy of The Croods on DVD with my two young children. The first few minutes passed a little more slowly for my 4-year-old son than his 6-year-old sister, partly because there’s a very good differential between the dull, bland, cave-life and the exciting, colourful, adventure that follows; it reminded me of the contrast in The Wizard of Oz, between black and white home-life and colourful Oz. The second low point was the large, scary, bear owl chasing the family from their home. (Yes, a ‘bear owl’; the Croodaceous creatures are mostly all inventive hybrids, that suggest prehistoric creatures. One of the exceptions is the macawnivore; it could be a macaw-carnivore hybrid but it’s actually a machairodont and, as we have no idea what their skin would be like, it could easily have been macaw coloured!)
As soon as we got rid of the bear owl (“Yay!”), both kids perked up and really got into the film. My goodness, it was hilarious; both the plot, and the bits where my kids suspiciously asked ‘why are you laughing’. How I sympathised with Grug’s parental frustrations and the recurring mother-in-law jokes! I also really liked the use of shells as phones. (Grug: “Why do [the kids] need their own [phones]?!” He’s definitely my favourite character in the film.) My children really liked the strange Croodaceous creatures – particularly the pets – and the exotic scenery; they loved guessing which real animals were components of the invented ones.
I don’t want to spoil the ending but there was one last, hairy, moment, where my kids were tempted to wail and run away; however, I persuaded them to wait for the happy ending that they craved – and they were duly rewarded within a few minutes. In fact, the ending was my daughter’s favourite setting and she wished there could have been more of that location in the film. When pressed for an opinion, my son seemed a bit obsessed with Belt, Guy’s pet sloth; he said his favourite part was Belt’s catchphrase of doom: “Dun dun daaaahh!” And repeated it many times. Many, many times. Belt may need to meet some tar… By way of parental revenge, I set them both to reviewing the movie as part of our homeschool activities. By way of filial emphasis, my son drew a picture of Belt saying: “Da da daaaahh!” I may have lost that round… But if you’d like to grab a copy of my film review worksheet, just click on the photo below.
In conclusion, The Croods are very likeable and watchable on a great many levels; I definitely recommend this as a family film to just about anyone and would rate it at 4.5 out of 5 (with half a point reluctantly knocked off for the bear owl because it caused my kids to shriek right into my ears). I can’t write enough good words about The Croods… so I’ll leave you with a few made up words instead! Look out for the Croodaceous mousephants, turtle doves, bear pears and piranhakeets. It’ll be so worth it, I promise!
The Croods was released on DVD and Blueray, today (9 December 2013), and would be an excellent Christmas stocking filler or anytime gift. Some very young kids may find a few scenes mildly scary but that passes quickly and anyone 6 years or older will roll in laughter.
This DVD review article is part of a blog hop, set up by Mumsnet and powered by Linky Tools; click here to view the full list of fabulous ‘The Croods’ reviews.