Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Directed by Chris Sanders and with a script by Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders that also bears the marks of Monty Python star John Cleese, ‘The Croods’ bounces along comfortably as expected. The film starts with dad Grug (voiced by Nicholas Cage) reminding his family of the dangers of wandering outside their comfort zone. That doesn't sit well with his precocious daughter Eep (Emma Stone), who doesn't subscribe to her father's risk-averse way of life.
What do you know? Tectonic plates shift and the family find themselves caveless. They leave, discovering the big world outside with its dangers and beauty in equal measure. The cavemen go up against saber-tooth tigers and a flock of piranha-like flying birds.
After getting used to the concept of exploration, they come across Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and discover fire, as well as other concepts such as a snapshot. Guy and Eep hit it off, as the Croods strive to adjust to their new world. Before long, they start domesticating wild animals, which appears to be an attempt to produce tie-in merchandise.
The voice actors do a convincing enough job in their roles. Cage is, for once, commendable in his role as dad-figure Grug, while Emma Stone showcase her ability to deliver humour and panache in her voice acting.
There are some impressive visuals on display, with some eye-popping creature design and colourful visuals. The vivid colours of flora and beautiful character design look like a combination of James Cameron's ‘Avatar’ and David Attenborough's nature documentaries. It's a pity that the character design of the Croods themselves seems almost underdone and dull in comparison to some of the animal life in the film.
Some of the jokes go after low-hanging fruit. When Guy invents shoes for Eep, she squeals in glee. There is little trace left of Cleese's and Aardman's involvement in the project, which might have resulted in a more irreverent approach.
Otherwise, the film relies on super kinetic motion sequences, and Sanders, better known for the Disney animation hit ‘Lola and Stitch’, is better at pushing the visuals rather than the story or characters in new directions.
There is a lot familiar about this prehistoric family. Besides the similarity to ‘The Flintstones’, the story arc also closely resembles that of the animal friends in ‘Ice Age’. The humour is more physical and visual here, and thankfully, there's less of a reliance on pop culture references, one of the banes of early Dreamworks films.
Kids will find the humour in ‘The Croods’ palatable, while adults might find the film quite forgettable. ‘The Croods’ might be stunning to look at, but otherwise brings little new to the story department.