Nose picking, blatant scratching, a thrilling chase, slipping on banana peels — all things my almost seven-year-old currently thinks are the most awesome and hilarious acts on earth, especially if there’s a fart joke in there somewhere.
Cue The Croods.
I will admit I’m less than thrilled by my son’s current choices in comedic relief, so when the two of us were ushered into an advanced screening of The Croods 3D I handed him his snacks with a stern warning to not get carried away by any caveman hijinks at home.
And, sure, while the film delivers on a lot of the humdingers on his potty humor list, we were both a little surprised to find out that it actually shares more about family bonds than it does lowbrow funnies.
At its simplest, The Croods tells the story of the world’s first family road trip (foot powered, of course). And at its most complex, it tells the story of a Neanderthal father learning to let his brave, rebelliously reckless daughter go, despite his deep-seated fears about, well, everything.
Ten minutes into the film, the family’s cave is destroyed by shifting tectonic plates, forcing patriarch Grug (Nicholas Cage), wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone), brother Thunk (Clark Duke), baby Sandy, and salty-tongued mother-in-law Gran (voiced by the fantastic Chloris Leachman), to venture beyond everything they know to join a slightly more evolved teenage boy named Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds as Kristen is delighted to know). He, in addition to wearing pants and having a scene-stealing sloth as a pet, likes ideas and inventions as much as Grug hates them.
You can probably see where this is going — the need for the Crood family to conquer their fear of the outside world and, in the words of my son, ultimately learn that “it’s ok to be scared sometimes. Everybody gets scared. But if you’re with family then you’ll be ok. Family has to be together.”
The film’s luminescent, texturally rich 3D vistas are like the best parts of Oz and Wonderland, brought together in one brilliantly surreal, crazy colorful mashup. My son and I audibly sighed while reaching out to try and touch spectacular 3D elements that bring gorgeous depth to the scenes instead of getting the same old eye-rolling reaction that comes with so many flicks using 3D just because they can.
And because they can charge double at the theatre. Ahem.
Parents will be happy to know the story is pretty clean, especially when you think about the more colorful language and double entendres movies use nowadays. I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Croods even skips words like “suck” — something that’s not allowed in our house.
Girls and boys will really like wild and woolly Eep — she’s reminiscent of Brave’s Merida down to the red hair. And, while Eep majorly crushes on Guy (it’s kind of hard not to), anything that might be interpreted as yucky-falling-in-love-stuff is tame, and doesn’t at all take away from thrilling action scenes. Plus it’s nice that Guy doesn’t look like a grown-up Bam Bam with a 12″ waist.
Plenty of scenes are intense, and while not very violent, might be too scary for littler kids. Then again, anything on the big screen is big, meaning kiddos who haven’t ever seen a fast-paced flick or worn 3D glasses will probably be in a little over their heads.
You know your kids best, but most moviegoers in the 6-7-and-older range should be fine with your guidance. If you’re concerned, wait until it’s on the smaller screen back home (although you’ll miss the awesome 3D effects).
To be sure, the movie isn’t perfect — there’s a lot of slapstick and predictability — and I can’t say it will have the staying power of other Dreamworks properties like say, Shrek… although I really want it to.
Also, it would be nice if, as Common Sense Media reiterates, female characters weren’t always being saved by male ones, even if they are voiced by Ryan Reynolds. Then again, depending on your point of view, you might say Eep had a hand in saving Grug, however indirectly.
Still, the film’s overall lessons are nice, and there is something special about sitting next to your son in a dark theatre, giggling and wearing goofy glasses. -Pilar