Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Video review: "The Croods"

“The Croods” was pretty typical of this year’s crop of animated family films. Pleasant enough, great-looking and featuring a catchy song or two, it nonetheless didn’t offer anything that was especially engaging or clever. Designed to entertain wee ones with lots of bouncy slapstick action and cute critters, it accomplished exactly that, and little more.

It’s not a bad movie; not a great one, either; just good enough to satisfy as throwaway entertainment.

Set in prehistoric times, the titular family is a gaggle of ape-like cave people who live in utter fear every second they spend outside their darkened cave. Dad Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage) has a motto: “Never not be afraid,” and it’s one they live by religiously.

Until, that is, rebellious daughter Eep (Emma Stone) pushes them to explore the wider world out there. They encounter danger and some fantastic creatures – the walking land whales were my favorite -- but also have amazing adventures. They hook up with a somewhat more evolved guy named … Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who shows them neat things like fire and shoes.

If this sounds familiar, as if it’s been repurposed from other movies, that’s because it has. It’s basically a stitch-together of “Ice Age” and “The Flintstones.” Some characters, such as the inexplicably reptilian-tailed Gran, exist only as comic relief.

Visually, “The Croods” is a marvel, with even stuff in the corners of the frame worth looking it. I just wish they could’ve given the same level of attention to the storytelling.

Extras are decent, and like the movie tend to be aimed at kids and ignore their parents.

The DVD comes with a handful of deleted scenes and two featurettes, one of which consists of music videos from other DreamWorks Animation flicks. “Belt’s Cave Journal” is a new short film featuring a couple of supporting characters.

Upgrade to the Blu-ray/DVD combo, and you add another featurette, “The Croodaceous Creatures of Croods!” spotlighting more of the film’s colorful beastiary. There’s also a drawing game for children, and a mobile app that lets kids build their own Croods storybook and color it, too.



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