Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Croods Review

Dreamworks has been a pretty solid animation company for the last fifteen years ever since the movie Antz debuted in 1998, but every once in a while even the most popular studios suffer a big blow. Thus was the case for Dreamworks as their most recent movie Rise of the Guardians bombed. Now as far as the reaction to the movie goes, that is up for debate. Some loved, others hated. I personally thought it was ok, but nothing to write home about. Great idea but poor execution. However, despite the reaction, the movie barely earned $100M domestically which is pretty bad for Dreamworks' standards. Dreamworks ended up losing north of $80M on the movie and the domino effect was that a bunch of employees were fired and Dreamworks altered their lineup. Mr Peabody & Sherman, which was supposed to come out in November of this year, was postponed to March of 2014. Me and My Shadow, which was previously in the March 2014 slot that Mr Peabody & Sherman took, got postponed indefinitely. Needless to say, a lot was riding on The Croods to perform well this March and April. How has it done? Well, in less than two weeks in theaters it has almost matched Rise of the Guardians' box office total, both domestically and internationally. So yeah, it's doing great. More importantly in terms of this post, though, is how I felt about the movie. Honestly it didn't look like it was going to be a great movie. I was expecting a decent animated movie, but not an extremely memorable one. However, I was mistaken. The Croods is, in fact, a fantastic movie and if you like the family friendly animated movie genre, like I do, I would consider it a must see. Especially if you have young children. They'll love it!

The Croods is a story about a caveman family that is the last of their kind. They have survived because they live in fear and don't do anything new. They follow a daily routine that they never change and they spend most of their time hiding in a cave to keep safe. Their family consists of Grug a very strong and overprotective father; Ugga, a somewhat soft spoken and gentle mother; Eep, a rebellious teenage girl; Thunk, a very obedient young son; Sandy, a feisty young baby; and Gran, an equally as feisty and spunky grandma. Through a certain chain of events, namely their world ending (a common theme in movies this year), they are forced from their cave home and onto an adventure with a teenage boy named Guy that Eep met that forces them to change their lifestyle and attitude towards everything. The character progression in this movie is really the strong point that successfully teaches a touching and beautiful message that we can all learn from in our own journeys through life. It also makes for a fun family film that is surprisingly cute and funny.

Given the setting and world of the movie, it turns out that there is only eight voice actors in this film and it is quite the prestigious cast where all eight are pretty big names in the movie business. All eight of them do a fantastic job in their different roles and while I am definitely not downplaying the roles of Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Chris Sanders, and Randy Thom, there are three voice actors that really get spotlighted in this film and they are Nicholas Cage (Grug), Emma Stone (Eep), and Ryan Reynolds (Guy). And let me tell you, they all three do a great job in their lead roles. First off, let me talk about Nicholas Cage. The man has a really bad rap in the movie business to point where most people nowadays will avoid a movie just because he is in it. He has become the laughing stock of Hollywood. Is that fair? Well maybe. He does have a habit of taking whatever role is given to him and he's not the best of actors, but I actually like him more than others. I specifically like National Treasure and Sorcerer's Apprentice and I will go as far as to say that he does a great job in these two movies. But whether or not you like him, let me assure you that he does a great job in this. True, it's nothing groundbreaking for him because it is only his voice, but still. Now moving on to Emma Stone, I was once again amazed with her. She made me fall in love with her in The Amazing Spider-Man and she made me fall in love with her again in this movie, which is really impressive being that she did it all with her voice. But her character was just so fantastic. Probably my favorite human character in the movie. Now I'm sure Ryan Reynolds pulled off a similar feat with the girls in this movie, but because I am a guy I will leave that subject to the girls and just mention that he did a great job as well.

There is more I could say about this movie like how adorable the non-human characters were and how fantastic the music was, especially the song performed by Owl City, but I will forgo that and instead end with my strong recommendation that you give this movie a chance. I'm certain that you will enjoy it. Now it is way too early to talk about this movie winning best animated movie of the year as it is only April right now and the majority of the animated movies are yet to come, but I would be surprised if this movie doesn't at least contend as the slate of animated movies this year isn't quite as strong this year as it has been in previous years. And in terms of overall movies, the first quarter of 2013 has been filled with disappointing movies and box office flops and among all the movies that have come out in these three months, The Croods is easily my favorite. I give it a strong 9 out of 10.

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