Fun, but without straying from its prototype
Dreamworks' newest flick is a clever, prehistoric family romp in a classic tradition, but it's too unimaginative to be more than a moneymaker.
Almost everything about The Croods is familiar. To me. But I have been through 18 years of seeing mostly movies my son wanted to see, and he is a fan of both animation and of anything that has to do with animals or the prehistoric world.
According to my son, who is somewhat of an authority, they got a lot of the evolutionary history correct. The creatures are fantastical, yet they still represent a compressed notion of how some animals evolved over a long period of time. Witness the whale that roams the land on four elephantine feet. Whales did evolve from a land mammal and maybe for one seemingly preposterous evolutionary moment they did lumber about the canyons and deserts with a tail and a dorsal fin. They probably did not look quite so Dr. Seuss-like.
The major premise, the eventual demise of Neanderthals and the survival and continued evolution of Cro-Magnons on toward homo sapiens, is all accepted as truth in circles where they discuss such things. But the science is not what makes the movie work. I think even fully vocal, latent or repressed creationists will find the family dynamics of the Crood brood funny and true. They function much like any patriarchal American family, following in the traditions of The Honeymooners and The Flintstones. It is all comedy territory that has been and will continue to be picked over by comedians and market researchers everywhere.
I guess if I sound annoyed (which I hope I do), what irks me most about The Croods is that it is completely a product of the marketplace. It is designed to appeal to children, plus a little tongue-in-cheek humor something for the parents that take them to see it to smile about.
There is nothing particularly new or innovative about The Croods. It doesn’t upend an idea or attempt to shatter a belief. It’s more benign than a Big Mac but not by much. It’s not particularly nourishing and isn’t intended to be. It’s funny but it won’t surprise you. It is really meant just to make money. I suspect it will.
The Croods opens almost everywhere Friday, March 22.
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