The Croods is advertised as being a movie about the first modern family, and it pretty much lives up to that. Much like Ice Age, it follows the story of a family. This time not snarky animals, but actual cave people. The Croods spend their life living in a dark cave and only venturing out every couple of days to get a giant egg to eat. Grug, the patriarch of the family, has kept his little clan from harm by following the rules. You must never not be afraid. Be afraid of anything unknown, especially the darkness.
However, Eep, Grugs' teenage daughter has recently become suspicious of his rules. She lacks the fear that has kept their family from a gruesome and horrific prehistoric death thus far. She hates spending days in the cave and believes there is much more to life outside. One night, as her family slumbers, Eep sees the light of the sun when there shouldn't be any. Throwing all her father's rules to the wind, she leaves the cave in the middle of the night to chase it. There she meets the slender and handsome caveman Guy who wields fire and travels where he pleases. Guy urges Eep to come with him saying that the world is about to be swallowed by a massive earthquake and lava. This is never explained as to why, but a brief glimpse of a map in the beginning tells that the super continent of Pangaea is breaking apart into the continents we know and love now. Perhaps a brief glimpse of a map is a little too complex of a hint for the children that view The Croods.
Grug shrugs off his daughters' warning after he finds her, but soon after their beloved cave does collapse and they are thrust into a great world where everything is unknown (and thus, by Grug's law, feared). This is where The Croods really begin to shine. Their previous world was fairly barren and only showed a few normal enough creatures, however this new landscape is vibrant and full or visually stunning landscape and life form.
After nearly dying a horrific prehistoric death, Guy comes back to save the family with fire and leads them across the beautiful but deadly landscape to try and ride the sun to a mythical land of 'tomorrow', much to Grug's dismay. The conflict in The Croods, other than the world slowly crumbling behind them, is between Grug's brute strength and cautiousness and Guy's cognitive faculties and problem solving. It often pits them against each other in hilarious circumstances.
The Croods is not the most amazing movie ever, but it is a fun romp for bother children and their parents. Some animated children's films these days can just be unbearable for the parents, but thankfully this is not one of them. The Croods is filled with somewhat intelligent slapstick comedy that is mostly driven by the Crood families formerly latent curiosity and their interaction with the world around them. Thankfully, because of the prehistoric setting in the film, there is no pop culture references that would have just made the movie a bit strange and there is also none of the overdone bodily function (fart joke) comedy either.
While The Croods has a refreshingly intelligent use of comedy, it does stick to the usual family dynamic. There is the protective father, the passive mother, the dumb as rocks brother, the rebellious daughter, the sassy grandmother, and an animalistic wild child baby. Of course there is the usual son-in-law and mother-in-law conflict between Grug and the grandmother, which while it is overused it is another comedic device within The Croods. At one point the grandmother states that if Grug were to have an original thought of his own, she would have a heart attack and die. So you can guess what Grug sets out to do. There is also a rather cringe-worthy romantic subplot between Eep and Guy that is really more awkward than sweet. I guess it is realistic in that sense, I mean, who did not have an awkward time trying to woo someone new in their teen years?
A few moments of comedy are also added by the animal sidekick of Guy's named Belt. Belt is a sloth who does indeed keep Guy's pants up as his name suggests, but he has a few quirky little moments that can elicit a giggle. I will never understand why animated movies need to have a cute animal sidekick, but Belt is an acceptable one.
The Croods actually does not sound like it has an all-star cast of voice actors, but it actually does. Nicolas Cage voices Grug, Emma Stone voices Eep, and Ryan Reynolds lends his voice to Guy. I was actually sincerely surprised when I read these people did the voices, it does not really sound like them. Not that they voice acting is bad, it's really quite good, but you can't tell it is the actors. Nicholas Cage as Grug is probably his best preformed role he has done in years. He is energetic and is nowhere near bored sounding as he is in some of his other films.
Overall, I would not say that The Croods is a must see movie. It is funny, but the plot is nothing new and you pretty much know what is usually coming next in the movie. There was a moment where the movie could have turned dark, like in the Lion King where Mufasa died, but it did not. Most likely because they will be looking to make a sequel. It has a very open ending where the movie could produce a sequel if they wanted it to. You just know they will too, Hollywood is just lazy like that these days.
If you are looking to go to a movie with your kids that isn't just plain terrible for you, the parent, to watch then The Croods is a good way to go. It has action and comedy for your children and action and comedy for the parent. Plus, really, it is just plain beautiful. I would recommend seeing it in theaters just because it is so visually stunning on the large screen that you are absolutely immersed.