The Croods review

This latest feature from Dreamworks began life as an Aardman production, with a script from De Micco and Cleese. When Aardman dropped the project in 2007, Dreamworks brought early-90s Disney stalwart (and more recent co-writer/director of the critically acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon) Sanders on board, which appears to have done the project no harm at all.

From TV’s The Flintstones to the more recent Ice Age films, a none-too-specific prehistoric period has often proved a popular setting for animation, and The Croods is happy to continue the tradition. Told through cave paintings in a neatly designed prologue, The Croods are a family of cavemen, with protective father Grug (Cage) and inquisitive daughter Eep (Stone) front and centre. When the family cave is destroyed and Eep becomes infatuated with fire-making wanderer Guy (Reynolds), the reliance on old ways and comfy daddy/daughter relationship is put to the test.

Aside from a few pesky creatures, there is no villain here; there isn’t even an anthropomorphic sidekick cracking wise. The only antagonists The Croods need are each other. De Micco and Sanders wisely use the prehistoric setting as an opportunity to strip away any distracting bells and whistles and concentrate on the family and their changing dynamic as daddy’s little girl grows older. Grug and Eep’s relationship is the sweet, relatable heart of the movie; even the potential love interest, Guy, isn’t used in this way and doesn’t have a lot to do other than function as Grug’s unintentional provocateur.

Although not as lush as Pixar’s finest, the world The Croods inhabit is nicely envisioned and Guy’s pet sloth, Belt, is sure to delight younger audiences. Although the design of The Croods themselves is a touch generic, the central voice performances by Cage and Stone bring them to life, filling them with bags of personality – though its hard to see the remaining family members, even Reynold’s Guy, as anything other than peripheral.

Bookended by a couple of nicely designed set pieces and with its fair share of well-crafted sight gags and slapstick humour, at 98 minutes The Croods doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. Accessible to even the very young and avoiding the post-modern pitfalls of some animated features, The Croods is good-natured, family-friendly fun, if a little on the light side.

The Croods at IMDb

INTERVIEW: The Croods co-writer/director Chris Sanders

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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