By: Holley Sinn
Little girls love their dads. Teenage girls still love their dads...but...they tend to love boys their age a little bit more. So it would seem, anyway. Growing up is hard to do, and it turns out, according to DreamWorks' latest 3D animated feature, that's been true since the Stone Age. Complete with voice talents Emma Stone, Nicholas Cage, Cloris Leachman and Ryan Reynolds, "The Croods" busts apart the traditional "Disney-esque" coming-of-age model by featuring a strong, independent young woman NOT wearing a sparkly dress ...and a family that is a little uncouth albeit incredibly lovable.
"The Croods" stars Emma Stone as Eep, a young woman coming of age in a cave in the Stone Age. Her family, led by her father, Grug, voiced by Nicholas Cage, is largely confined to the cave due to the dangerous nature of the outside world. However, Eep is not content to exist in the dark, and ventures out one night when she spies an unusual light. The light comes from a fire constructed by a young man named Guy, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, who insists that the world is going to end and that Eep and her family should join him in his quest for higher ground. Grug is difficult to convince until Guy's predictions of total destruction begin to come true, and the family is forced to leave their cave for the last time.
Throughout the quest, Grug attempts to use his strength to dominate Guy and assume the leadership role, but Guy's progressive ideas save the family from peril time and time again. As Eep becomes more and more enamored with Guy, Grug feels less and less important in his daughter's life. It isn't until Grug and Guy find that they must join forces to save themselves from the ultimate danger that Grug finally begins to realize the importance of collaboration. Grug also begins to see the importance of doing what one can do with one's own talents...a principle he demonstrates by making the ultimate sacrifice to save his family.
"The Croods" is complete with colorful and whimsical characters, some human and some not, the most charming of which is a purple, monkey-like creature named "Belt" who coos like a Gremlin and really does help to hold Guy's pants up. The family can be a little annoying at times, but that's just how families are...and Nicholas Cage is at his very best as the voice of Grug, the protective father. Aside from the stunning visual imagery, what really makes this film so delightful is the relationship between Grug and Eep. Yes, this film is geared toward children, but women will likely find it especially poignant because of the great focus on the father/daughter relationship. The genuine love Grug has for Eep and Eep has for her father, despite their idealistic struggles, brought more than a few tears to my eyes.
"The Croods" is rated PG and IS being presented in both 2D and 3D, and it opens Friday in theaters all over the bay area