Facing shifting tectonic plates and the threat of volcanic activity, “The Croods” live in a world that’s heating up. But the reviews are lukewarm. The new DreamWorks Animation 3-D film centers around a fearful father and his cave-dwelling family that has to learn not to play it so safe in order to survive in the changing new world around them. The voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds might draw adults to the theater, but critics say these tricks are for kids.
Read on for our review round-up of “The Croods.”
“Earthquaked out of their cave dwelling, the Crood brood embarks on a search for a new home. There’s an interloper: Eep encounters an advanced caveboy with impressive low body fat (Ryan Reynolds, voice). The caveboy, Guy, is not just a pinup; he’s a harbinger of humankind’s future. He knows about fire, for example (‘the sun is … in his hands!’) and has things called ‘ideas.’ These nomads must learn to learn from each other as they dodge attacks waged by such fanciful species as Piranhakeets, deadly, toothy flying creatures who can strip a carcass faster than you can say ‘potential new animation franchise.’ ” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
A Whole New World
“Kids will enjoy outsmarting the Neanderthals, whose experience of the world is so limited that they think fire can be extinguished by dry grass. They will get a kick out of Guy as a proto-MacGyver who shows his traveling companions how to use rocks, vines, leaves — and strategy — to trap food and protect themselves from predators. As Grug and his family leave their rocky home, they find new environments that are increasingly dazzling, with spectacularly imagined vistas and gorgeous vegetation. Those images nicely parallel the opening minds and spirits of Grug and his family.” — Nell Minow, Roger Ebert.com
Doesn’t Reinvent the Wheel
“The animated adventure features a strong, star-studded cast and dazzles visually in wondrously colorful, vibrant 3-D, but the script doesn’t pop off the screen quite so effectively. The overly facile message here is: Trying new things is good. It’s a useful notion for kids in the crowd to chew on, but their older companions may be longing for something more substantive … The themes aren’t exactly groundbreaking from co-writers and directors Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco (with John Cleese sharing a story-by credit, having been a part of early drafts of the script), and the plot feels too repetitive with the Croods encountering one unexplored terrain after another and responding in predictable ways.” — Christy Lemire, The Associated Press
The Final Word
“Stone’s spunky personality comes through in Eep, and Reynolds is fine as Guy. Catherine Keener is wasted as Ugga (Mrs. Ugg), as is Clark Duke as nitwit son Thunk. (In his defense, Thunk is pretty sure he doesn’t have a brain.) And (Cloris) Leachman voices the standard wise-cracking old person well enough.
It’s all well enough. The jokes only make up for the pedestrian plot for so long. There was a time when animated fare with generic stories sufficed. But now we expect more them, because they have, pardon the pun, evolved. ‘The Croods,’ like its title family, hasn’t.” — Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Croods.”