Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Croods

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some scary action
Profanity:Some schoolyard language
Nudity/Sex:Some potty humor
Alcohol/Drugs:None
Violence/Scariness:Action-style peril and violence, scary animals, no one badly hurt
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:March 22, 2013
DVD Release Date:October 1, 2013

I think we can all agree that at least in some respects all children are Neanderthals. It is the grand challenge of parenthood to civilize these sometimes savage little creatures by teaching them language, manners, and keeping safe.  And some of the most difficult choices parents must make come when we try to encourage children to be strong, brave, independent, and adventuresome when it comes to accomplishing goals in school, sports, and chores while protecting them from mistakes that could be hurtful or even devastating.

That’s the idea behind sweet new animated film about a prehistoric cave family. Familiar family dynamics are amusingly exaggerated in the Paleolithic setting, where the most basic necessities require everyone’s full-time attention.  The heavy-boned characters designed by the brilliantly witty Carter Goodrich (“Despicable Me,” “Hotel Transylvania”) may argue with each other, but they demonstrate the strength of their bond on the hunting/gathering expedition.  When this family goes out to get breakfast, they really go out to get breakfast.  In a joyously-choreographed race to get food, parents Grug (Nicolas Cage) and Ugga (Catherine Keener), Ugga’s mother Gran (Cloris Leachman), and their three children work seamlessly together somewhere between extreme dodgeball, an obstacle course, and a rugby game.  Even the happily feral baby joins in for a crucial maneuver.

Other than that, they stay inside the cold, dark, cave.  None of the other families of their community have survived, and Grug is terrified of anything that he cannot control.  So he tells his family that “curiosity is bad and anything that is new is bad” and insists that they all stay inside together.  Keeping everyone alive is his full-time job.  “Never not be afraid,” he warns them.  “Fear keeps us alive.”  “I will never do anything new or different,” promises his son Thunk (Clark Duke).  But rebellious teenagers go back as far as protective fathers, and Eep wants to explore the world outside the cave.  What Grug sees as safe and under control, Eep sees as boring and old-fashioned.

That bigger world Eep wants to see includes a stranger, a guy named Guy (Ryan Reynolds).  He has a lot of new ideas like tools, shoes, a “belt” (a monkey with a theatrical flair for flourish), and “baby suns”  – fire.  Eep wants to learn more.   And soon Grug has to make changes because the tectonic plates start to shift beneath him. Staying the same is no longer safe.  The family must leave the cave to find a new place to live.  Grug has to learn that sometimes new is not bad.  And Eep has to learn the value of what she already has.

Kids will enjoy outsmarting the Neanderthals, whose experience of the world is so limited that they think fire can be extinguished by dry grass and they will marvel at the notion that there had to be a first-ever hug.  They will get a kick out of Guy as a proto-MacGyver who shows his traveling companions how to use rocks, vines, leaves — and strategy — to trap food and protect themselves from predators.  As Grug and his family leave their rocky home they find new environments that are increasingly dazzling, with spectacularly imagined vistas and gorgeous vegetation.  Those images nicely parallel the opening minds and spirits of Grug and his family.  Despite a few too many mother-in-law jokes, “The Croods” nicely makes it clear that even before they had fire, families understood how important it was to cherish and protect each other.  And Eep reminds us that what may feel like teenage obstinacy and foolhardiness may just be the next step in our evolution.

Parents should know that this movie has some scary animals and children and adults in peril, with references to sad off-screen deaths.  There is brief crude humor and there are repeated jokes about Grug wishing that his mother-in-law would die.

Family discussion: How can you tell when it is time to try new things and time to stick with what you know?  What did Guy and Grug learn from each other?

If you like this, try: Visit a museum or do some research in books to look at prehistoric fossils and bones and watch “The Land Before Time,” the “Ice Age” series, and “The Flintstones”



Previous Posts

Lucy and the Box Office: The Good News and the Bad News
Last week, "Lucy" beat "Hercules" at the box office, good news for those who still think that women-led action films can't make money. As blog The Mary Sue put it succinctly: "Today In Female

posted 8:00:04am Aug. 01, 2014 | read full post »

Guardians of the Galaxy
The summer movie you've been waiting for has arrived, a joyous space romp that all but explodes off the screen with lots of action and even more charm. Our recent superheros have been complex, often anguished, even downright tortured. It has been a while since we've had a charming rogue with a ba

posted 5:59:33pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Get on Up
There are a lot of challenges in taking on the life story of James Brown, known variously as the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite and others with vari

posted 5:59:21pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Magic in the Moonlight
Woody Allen's 44th film is an amuse bouche without a meal, a dollop of whipped cream without the dessert underneath.  In last year's film, "Blue Jasmine," the strength of the performances (especially Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett) and the resonance of its Bernie Madoff-ish crossed with "Streetcar Nam

posted 5:58:31pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Exclusive Clip: Behind the Scenes on "Calvary"
Brendan Gleeson gives a magnificent performance as a warm-hearted priest in a sad and damaged world in "Calvary," opening next week across the country.  Here's an exclusive peek behind the scenes, featuring Gleeson and Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies Sister Rose Pacatte. [iframe

posted 3:45:01pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.