(It's my birthday so I splurged! Doing two movies this week. One today and another tomorrow. Yeah!)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Chris Sanders, and Randy Thom.
Directed by: Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders Screenplay by: Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco Story by: John Cleese, Chris Sanders, and Kirk De Micco Cinematography by: Yong Duk Jhun Original Music by: Alan Silvestri
Premise: Tired of always hiding in caves and fearing the outside world, Eep, a young cavegirl, breaks her father's strictest rule and leaves the cave during the night when she sees light shinning in from outside and decides to go investigate. She makes a startling discovery, but also finds out the end of the world may be at hand. If she and her family don't try to find a new way of life, they may very well become extinct. (Rated PG)
1) Voice Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Nicolas Cage works a remarkably broad range of emotions as The Crood's head of the family. Between Mr. Cage's acting and the great animation from Dreamworks, it's easy to see the whole spectrum of Grug's feelings throughout the film. Emma Stone played the ultimate teenager and did it very well. Ryan Reynolds was fun as the character 'Guy'. Cloris Leachman had great chemistry with Nicolas Cage as hated mother-in-law. She had some great one liners. Chris Sanders as Belt was adorable!
2) Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: Dreamworks really knows how to use their medium to tell stories. I loved the stark contrast between the Croods' home and the new land they discover when they set off on their journey. And rather than just give us the usual prehistoric or modern animals and plants, the film animators went through a lot of trouble, and had some obvious fun, inventing a world all their own.
The animation is quite impressive throughout. The film was filled with great sweeping vistas and grand chaos. Coupled with the bright imagination of the artists and story makers, it made the whole film very robust. Deadly beauty, unexpected discoveries, even finding a way to make serious things humorous - the film does all this and more. One of my favorite parts was the field of giant flowers some of the party members come across in the labyrinth - definitely beautiful and also very deadly.
Two mirrored but extremely poignant moments only involved animation yet were incredibly powerful - Eep and her father both unknowingly hesitate, then make the conscious decision (for different reasons) to leave the known safety of the cave - the deep emotion and hesitation shown purely by the way they lay their hand on the cave's front stone and then remove it. Lovely.
3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: As some of the best animated films do, "The Croods" has something for everyone in the family to enjoy. They also incorporated a lot of subtle humor, even weaving some of it into the music in the background. The parents are apt to enjoy the movie even more than the kids.
The story line possesses several concurrent plots, making it more robust as a whole. Not only do they cover Eep's anxieties and dreams, which is typical of animated films, but they go a step further and also show her father's - connecting with the teens and parents. The whole section where Grug is trying to be 'hip' and create things on his own, is a total riot.
But even better, despite it being a kid's movie and as such almost forced to end on a happy note, the story tellers even make you doubt all will turn out okay.
Conclusion: "The Croods" is highly enjoyable and totally adorable. Contains a ton of cute to outright funny moments. Lots of great visuals. (I want one of the flying turtles!) Well worth making the time to go see it.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Paying Full Price To See Again!)