Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Modern man’s cultural understanding of ancestral connections like its cave dwelling past is in many ways much more respectful than even a couple of decades ago. However, when it comes to portrayals of Neanderthals in entertainment, the Flintstones or that series of Geico commercials that got really annoying at the end has been pretty much the highlight of quality for the genre.
Yet, eventually something fun and engaging had to evolve to theaters once again and despite how weird it sounds to even mention pre-historic homo sapiens and 3D in the same sentence, the results are far from a reason to run for safety under your favorite rock. If you can try and not approach the flick critically in the same company as pretentious self-serving “art,” it’s actually quite a fun escape out of this world that has forgotten the joys of being threatened by everything from giant kitties to flesh eating birds. “The Croods” won’t challenge your intellect in any way, but for mind numbing hilarity, it serves the intended purpose.
This most ancient of tales focuses on one particular family of cave dwelling paranoids, who thanks to the ever watchful eye of the patriarch Grug (Nicholas Cage), only enter the outside world during the day for their single meal. For the most part everyone follows dad’s “you will die if you experience anything new” philosophy from his boy Thunk (Clark Duke) to wife, Ugga (Catherine Keener), but of course is not bought by the rebellious black sheep, his daughter Eep (Emma Stone).
What seems to be an endless struggle to keep them all safe only ends up collapsing further when they learn from a rather nerdy cave dude named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) that the world as they know it is ending and only by leaving the comfort of their cave will they live to see tomorrow. Cue a series of slapstick gags thought to be buried alive with Abe Vigoda and a choice for Grug to either get with the times or doom everything he loves because of his stubborn attitude toward change. It’s certainly something those of the youngest age should be able to enjoy, but with enough there for the older folks to be able to relate and enjoy without feeling dumbed down.
Really the only thing this movie might have going against it is not enough puppet gags or a few too many mother-in-law jokes, but even then I couldn’t help but stay engaged throughout. It’s not likely a contender for best animated prize either, especially since the most intriguing options for that are still in the weeks and month ahead.
Still, I will give props to features like the soundtrack, another whimsical entry from Alan Silvestri and Cage for actually sounding somewhat less monotone than a great deal of his past characters. I recommend it for a family gathering and while not something I’ll likely add to my permanent collection, something I’d watch again later on TV. In the end, for effort I’d say the verdict for “The Croods” ends up being three out of five continents.
Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.