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The Croods

Frankly, I found the first hour of The Croods (2013) to be cliched, and formulaic — and it wasn’t until the final third of the movie that I began to enjoy it. But when I got to that point, it was well worth watching.

The Croods DVD coverIn short, the Croods are a family of cave men, who live in fear in their cave, due to their very hostile environment. The father, Grug (voiced by aa) believes in sticking strictly to the rules that have enabled them to survive for generations — however, his rebellious teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone) wants to explore the world, and see what exists outside their cave. The other family members (mom Ugga (Catherine Keener), son Thunk (Clark Duke), Gran (Cloris Leachman) and the youngest child Sandy (Randy Thorn)) side with Grug – until …

On one of her forbidden excursions outside of the cave, Eeep meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a handsome young man who’s not afraid, who has the secret of fire, and is moving away from an impending disaster. Soon, the Croods cave is destroyed, and they’re forced to follow Guy — with the inevitable conflict between “safe” Grug and “cool” Guy causing more and more of the family to start siding with Guy, Grug trying to win them back, friction between father and future son-in-law, Guy’s tragic back story, etc. — none of which is told in a new or fresh way, and frankly had me bored — until the final third of the movie.

In that final third, Grug throws each member of the family to safety across a chasm — sacrificing himself for his family. As a father, this spoke to me, as did the next scene, where he paints his family in cave art, reminding himself and the audience of how much each family member  means to him. And, as the end approaches, his love for his family causes him to do the thing that Guy does all the time, that Grug seems incapable of doing — having an idea. Grug  uses “pieces” that we’ve seen through the movie to come up with a creative way to cross the chasm and come to his family’s rescue. It’s the fact that he thinks that they’re in danger that gives him the needed impetus, and leads to a tearful reunion that’s not sappy, but effective.

Editorial review of  The Croods courtesy of  Amazon.com

Even breakfast is an adventure when you’re the last surviving prehistoric family, and the conviction that fear keeps you alive and curiosity will get you killed definitely drives the Crood clan. But Eep (Emma Stone), who’s in many ways a typical teenager intent on testing her boundaries and the resolve of her parents (Nicolas Cage and Catherine Keener), yearns for more than hiding out in a dark cave all day. Eep sneaks out of the cave one night and almost gets the whole family killed, but her path crosses with a boy named Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who it seems is destined to change everything for the Crood family. Forced to flee their cave home after it’s destroyed, the Croods reluctantly follow Guy on a perilous journey that leads them to discover a whole new world full of breathtaking views, fascinating creatures, and blood-stirring adventure. The animation is lush and gorgeous and the abundance of physical and slapstick humor, especially from Nicolas Cage as Grug and Cloris Leachman as Gran, keeps the plot moving and viewers chuckling throughout the film. What the Crood family’s journey eventually reveals is twofold: that focusing on living life and following the light is a viable alternative to hiding in the darkness and that anyone can change. (Ages 8 and older) —Tami Horiuchi