Direction: Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone
Rating: ***1/2 stars
The vividly rendered animated adventures of a Neanderthal family often measures up to the standards set by such recent cartoon blockbusters as How To Train Your Dragon (2010) and Rango (2011). Not surprisingly, acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins (Skyfall) served as visual consultant on all the three movies.
Young audiences will soak up plenty of colour and relate to the bunch of goofy characters from prehistoric times. Briskly paced, the escapades of the surviving clan of cave dwellers also manage to provide a family-friendly message about filial duty, co-existence and self-discovery.
Determined to keep his kin safe, the overprotective patriarch (dubbed in haughty tones by Cage) doesn’t allow any of them to venture into the outside world on their own. He constantly cautions them that “fear is good, change is bad”.
It goes without saying, of course, that our cave-dad’s strictures are ignored, particularly by his rebellious daughter (Stone). Intent on exploring the world instead of hiding from it, she encounters a hunky teenager (Ryan Reynolds) who convinces the eponymous Croods clan to retreat to a brighter new terrain. En route, there are encounters with an array of fanciful creatures ranging from mini-elephants to land whales and a swarm of pink birds with piranha–sharp teeth. Some attempts at eliciting guffaws, like the banana peel pratfall or the frequent mother-in-law jibes, are feeble.
On the other hand, co-writers /directors Sanders and DeMicco demonstrate maverick creativity in conjuring up the first pair of shoes, the earliest snapshots, besides the handy use of conches and puppets.
The replication of the lush landscapes and character movement are among the high points. Besides the lead trio, there are winning vocal performances by Catherine Kenner as the matriarch and old-timer Cloris Leachman as the indomitable grandma. Enjoy.