Alistair Harkness gives his verdict on The Croods, a new animated family film from DreamWorks.
Synopsis: In pre-historic times, a cautious family of cavemen find themselves caught up in an adventure of danger and discovery.
Age Rating: PG
Running Time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Kirk de Micco, Chris Sanders
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener
Beginning life as an enticing, stop-motion collaboration between John Cleese and Aardman Animation, this tale of a prehistoric family facing up to its potential demise instead arrives on the big screen as an energetic, if rather more run-of-the-mill, DreamWorks CG-animated adventure.
Directed by Chris Sanders, who made Disney’s lovingly riotous Lilo & Stitch a decade ago, as well as DreamWorks’ own rather magnificent How to Train Your Dragon, the film pops in all the right places visually, with a scene-and-theme-setting opening establishing the titular family’s arid, apocalyptic environs in high style, and the animators letting rip with some fairly trippy visuals after the characters decide to risk leaving the safety of their cave and end up in a verdant ecosystem straight out of Avatar.
But if the animation looks cutting edge, the storytelling is cave-painting basic, with the free-spirited Eep (Emma Stone) torn between obeying her over-protective father Crugg (Nicolas Cage), and running off with the adventure-seeking, fire-harnessing caveboy Guy (Ryan Reynolds).
Along the way, the rest of the family – including Eep’s caring mother (Catherine Keener) and her salty Gran (Cloris Leachman) – get into various scrapes that occasionally amuse, but mostly service a story intent on delivering Ice Age-style life lessons.
By Alistair Harkness
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