Eep (Emma Stone) is your average teenager—curious, rebellious, desperately longing to leave the nest. But there’s one crucial difference: She’s living in prehistoric times. Most of her days are spent in a dark hollow, which Eep and her family only emerge from when her strict father Grug (Nicolas Cage) allows. But after their home is destroyed by continental drift, the brood known as the Croods must reluctantly hit the road. They’re joined on their quest by Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a strapping young hunter who’s invented this thing called fire and who sparks some amorous feelings in Eep. But it’s unlikely this boringly bland 3-D animated feature will stir any swooning in its viewers.
The Croods strictly adheres to DreamWorks Studios’ animation-flick formula: Characters speak in self-knowing, anachronistic patois (“I’m a cat person,” says Grug, after befriending a saber-toothed feline) while trite life lessons—in this case about overcoming fear and letting yourself be guided by inner and outer lights—are professed with maximum treacle. Aside from a few witty Looney Tunes–esque sight gags, such as one hilarious image of a woolly mammoth being swallowed up by the tectonically shifting earth, the stereoscopic visuals are a busy, personality-free digital blur. At least the filmmakers reward Nicolas Cage enthusiasts with one of the actor’s patented WTF freak-outs; even in animated form, the guy can still go sublimely Neanderthal.
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