The Croods Review

Film Still
  • The Croods film still


Surprisingly awful, clichéd animated adventure begs, borrows and steals from Avatar.

In his 2010 documentary Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, director Werner Herzog makes a beautiful observation on the paintings adorning the walls of the Chauvet caves in France, the oldest examples of human art yet discovered.

Aided by his exquisite 3D photography, he draws attention to the depiction of movement in the lines of the sequential drawings, poetically suggesting in his own inimitable way that the flicker of light under which they were created may well have instanced the first proto-cinematic illusion.

We’ll never know the identity of the artist responsible for such extraordinary images, but we can be certain that whoever it was, he or she was in possession of a greater understanding of the potential of the moving image than the team responsible for The Croods, DreamWorks' latest miserable attempt to zero in on the Pixar dollar.

Narrative and aesthetic derivativeness represent the least of the problems in a film entirely bereft of gags that hit the mark. In fact, its only saving grace is the way in which it unknowingly illuminates how lightly Mark Addy actually got off when handed the script for The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas.

Little more than a series of minor set-pieces strung together to form a journey movie that plays like a discarded draft of The Land Before Time, it’s a grinding first act which introduces the one-dimensional archetypes that form the eponymous family of cavemen.

It seems that extra thrills were added in post-production to many sequences by simply running the footage twice as fast, but even that can’t prepare us for the lawsuit-in-waiting Avatar knock-off once the family hit the road. The earthy browns of the opening act give Oz-like way to a nauseating maelstrom of noxious colour that make the aesthetic sensibilities of Speed Racer look subdued. It’s an experience akin to having an assault rifle filled with Skittles fired at your face.

In all, The Croods is a lazy, shoddy endeavour, and its reliance on noisy set-pieces and pratfalls is never enough to paper over the woeful emptiness of the writing. The second-rate animation may at least offer consistency in the characters’ inexpressive faces and the phoned-in voice work from the likes of Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone, but kids deserve better than this. We all do.

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