The Croods in this animation are a prehistoric family who have escaped death by disease, mammoth, big cat and other assorted nasties via the simple ruse of staying in their cave whenever they can. It’s a strategy dear to the heart of brawny patriarch Grug (Nicolas Cage) and naturally less appealing to curious teen Eep (Emma Stone). But it’s soon clear that the landscape, it is a-shifting, and the Croods must adapt or die.
The theme of survival in the face of an apocalyptic event casts a bit of a shadow over proceedings, making The Croods almost the family entertainment entry into a canon including the likes of ‘Grave Of The Fireflies’ and ‘Threads’. Of course, being a DreamWorks animation and possible franchise, this isn’t a bleak emotional nightmare, but a luridly colourful caper that pokes us in the eyes with a succession of lavishly rendered 3D perils too quickly for any abiding melancholy to set in.
It’s a frenetic approach that doesn’t leave much time to meet the family, but the characterisations are so broad and accessible (kind mum, crabby granny, thick son and so on) that this doesn’t matter much. It’s all entertaining enough, and will surely sell plenty of stuffed toys. But it winds up a fair few rungs below the likes of ‘Brave’ on the evolutionary ladder.