Dreamworks, at least their animation side, has always been the number two to Pixar in animation. While usually always good, they never quite get the praise of Pixar stuff. Rightfully so as Dreamworks releases much more bad than good when it comes to their animated movies. But stuff like: Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and Megamind are all pretty great animated features. I went into The Croods knowing next to nothing about it, and it turned out to be a pretty fun little movie. Not quite Pixar level, but not Shark Tale level in the slightest. Side note, I really want a pet sloth.
The Croods follows the story of Eep (Emma Stone) a teenage girl in prehistoric caveman family. She has always been taught by her dad Grug (Nicholas Cage) that new things are bad, and avoid new things is how the family has survived. These two are living with Eep's mother, Ugga (Catherine Keener), younger sister, Sandy (Randy Thom), brother, Thunk (Clark Duke), and grandmother, Gran (Cloris Leachman). One night she ignores her fathers warning and sneaks out of their cave. She follows a light source that she sees and find that it belongs to Cro-Mangon caveboy, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and his pet sloth, Belt (Chris Sanders). The light source turns out to be fire and she wants to learn more. Guy informs Eep that he believes that the world is going to end and subsequently asks her to join him. Eep declines, but Guy gives her a noise making shell in case she ever needs him. About this time Grug catches Eep and drags her back to the cave. Eep shows the shell to the family, who destroy it in fear. As this happens a earthquake starts and destroys the cave they live in forcing them to run and they all land in a lush forest. Grug only knows one thing, and that's to find a cave for his family to live in. But they may have to rely on Guy if they was to survive the "end of the world".
First things first, this movie looks nice. From the ho-hum rock and sediment colors to the lush rain-forest like area, all looks vibrant. Nothing is just eye popping to be eye popping. The CGI isn't bad as well. Especially with a lot of Dreamwork stuff is them going for that "cartoony realism" in their human characters. This keeps it relatively good. While there are spots where they look superhuman and/or over exaggerated, as a whole they keep a good balance between realism and CGI. Making things too real, or too animated, in a movie like this can bring complaints, but like I've been saying, this has a pretty great, balanced look. The other great thing about this is, surprisingly, the amount of times I chuckled. This a kids movie through and through, but some of the lines, and bits they do, are pretty good. Just about everything Thunk (Clark Duke) did was pretty funny and reminded me why I like characters, like Kevin from The Office. While the stubbornness and retort between Grug and Gran and Grug and Guy are pretty good. You may not be a fan of Nicholas Cage's acting in live action movies, but he made for a good voice in this. The other two big parts were Clark Duke and Ryan Reynolds. While Emma Stone is the main character, it's her support that really takes the cake. Not saying she's bad, but like Catherine Keener and to an extent Cloris Leachman, Emma is a highly forgettable voice. Combine that with a lot of the good lines coming from Cage, Duke and Reynolds and Emma just feels left out in this.
The rest of this movie is average at best. While a lot of the characters have funny moments, it's really just left at that funny moments. I never really get into any of the character's or their overall story, aside from the close of the movie with Grug. They're there to facilitate the story, comedy, etc, and they do that well. But as I'm not a kid, I don't really invest in them overall. I wanna feel emotion in these types of feel-good family movies. I wanna tear up like at the end of Toy Story 3 or the opening scene of Up! I wanna laugh at giant monster being scared of a toddler or a fish with short term memory. With The Croods there just no one that memorable. Give me Mike Meyers, give me Jack Black, give me Ben Stiller or give me Will Ferrell as a lead. Don't give me Emma Stone only to have her out-shined by Nicholas Cage and Ryan Reynolds. The story is fine as well. A caveman family, who spends all their time inside, cause they fear if they leave they'll get killed. Until the curious daughter ventures out and sets off a series of events where the family must learn to love outside of a cave. It's fun, it's simple for kids and it's a sure bet. Not reaching with story elements, or trying to cater to much to the parents who will be watching with their kids. It's a safe story that wasn't going to flop, with above average CGI and comedy. I was into it, it kept me interested and the ending of this is a pretty good one as far as kid's movies go. The music was fine, dramatic when needed and lighthearted when needed as well. The length was fine as well. Not too short to not tie up neatly and not overly long where you could feel it dragging. There were a couple of scenes where I was thinking to myself, "Why is this in here?" Then I remembered I'm watching a movie targeted at kids.
All in all The Croods is an average movie from a year, so far, that has been very underwhelming. The first kids movie of the year is one that's alright. Nothing is bad in this, just nothing is that good either. The comedy is well above what I thought it would be (a lot due to Clark Duke) and the CGI is pretty good throughout. Dragged down my the mediocrity of almost every other facet of this, The Croods is a great one off movie. A great movie that kids will surely enjoy, while the parents won't be bored to tears watching.