Subtlety isn’t what cavemen do best. As a rule, they prefer the club-over-the-head method more than anything else.
The prehistoric animated romp “The Croods” is a broad, slapstick affair with plenty of cheap laughs, but it also has warmth and a smidgen of intelligence behind it. It’s not nearly as crude as the title would have you believe.
The Croods are a not-so-modern Stone Age family, the last Neanderthals standing in a deadly world of predators.
The hulking dad, Grug (voice of Nicolas Cage), drills his family to “never not be afraid” and makes them stay in their dark cave except when it’s absolutely necessary for them to go out. It’s hard to blame him though, because danger really is all around, and just catching breakfast is a monumental undertaking.
Most of the family glumly accepts their status on the food chain: Ugga (Catherine Keener), the understanding wife; Thunk (Clark Duke), the lunk-headed son; Gran (Cloris Leachman), the slightly unhinged mother-in-law.
Eep (Emma Stone), the teenage daughter, however, is curious and rebellious. One night she sneaks out and crosses paths with Guy, a young and slightly more evolved caveman.
Voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Guy has all sorts of unique ideas, not to mention a new toy called fire. He also apparently has a degree in geology and realizes that the earth’s tectonic plates are shifting and will cause mass destruction.
Grug, Eep and clan are forced to leave their safe cave and follow Guy out into the world, where they encounter a variety of strange wonders and cool creatures, some of which may not be quite scientifically or historically accurate. You’ll have to watch “Ice Age” if you want that.
“The Croods” hands out some simple and obvious life lessons and features plenty of silliness, but it’s a fast-paced adventure with a good number of laughs. Made by DreamWorks Animation, the film also makes pretty good use of 3-D, with a lush and exotic prehistoric backdrop.
This is one movie that is safe for the whole family, as long as they all return to the cave immediately afterward.
Rental Recommendation: Haven’t been a lot of good caveman movies. Try Mel Brooks’ “History of the World: Part One,” though its prehistoric element is rather brief. Grade: B+
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"The Croods" Grade: B+ Starring: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds Rated: PG (for some scary action) Running time: 98 minutes