The Croods

Certificate U, 98 minutes ★★★★★★★★

Back in the days of way back when, Aardman Animation (Wallace & Gromit, The Pirates, Chicken Run etc) announced a five film deal with DreamWorks Annimation. One of those stop motion films was to be the Pythonesquely titled Crood Awakening. Indeed the first few drafts were penned by John Cleese, along with Kirk DeMicco (who eventually directed). That deal went south, and the title reverted to DreamWorks, who have finally brought it out under the title The Croods as a regular 3D CG animation.

The Croods are a family of thick-set Neanderthal-browed cavemen, led by Grug (Nicholas Cage), his wife Ugga (Catherine keener), mother-in-law (Cloris Leachman), daughters Eep (Emma Stone) and Sandy, son Thunk (Clark Duke), and ‘the baby’. We learn that they are the last surviving family, which Grug attributes to regarding anything “new”as a threat to their survival. Teenage daughter Eep naturally rebels, and one night sneaks out of their cave.

She meets the human boy Guy (Ryan Reynolds) who shows her this fascinating new thing called fire and tells of the end of the world, and is subsequently grounded by her father. When the cave is subsequently destroyed by an earthquake, the Croods flee, and meet up once again with Guy, who leads them reluctantly (or eagerly in Eep’s case) towards a new land populated with strange creatures, from sabretoothed kittens to miniature mouse-elephants to piranha-jawed parrots…

Visually, the film is stunning, both in terms of design and animation. Not totally surprising, since Roger Deakins (Skyfall) acted as visual consultant, as he did also with Rango, How to train your Dragon and Wall-E (and The Guardians, but frankly, the less said about that the better). It’s truly amazing how far animation has come, even since the later Toy Story films, when you look at the details in the hair and fur (you really find yourself wanting to run your hands through it, it’s so good), and water, and the simply amazing flocking parrots (I was watching a flock of starlings in the dusk the other evening, and seriously, it’s as good as real life).

The script still shows signs of the original Cleese wit, and there are plenty of gags, both verbal and visual, in there for adults as well as kids, and it is genuinely funny. This is one film I would definitely go and see again. And then buy the Blu Ray.

Never not be afraid: 8/10