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- The Croods
Saturday, July 13, 2013
The Croods is a 2013 American 3D computer-animated adventure comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It features the voices ofNicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, and Cloris Leachman. The film is set in a fictional prehistoric Pliocene era known as The Croodaceous, a period which contains fantastical creatures, when a man's position as a "Leader of the Hunt" is threatened by the arrival of a prehistoric genius who comes up with revolutionary new inventions, like fire, as they trek through a dangerous but exotic land in search of a new home.
The Croods was written and directed by Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders, and produced by Kristine Belson and Jane Hartwell. The film premiered at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival on February 15, 2013, and was released in the United States on March 22, 2013. As part of the distribution deal, this film is the first from DreamWorks Animation to be distributed by 20th Century Fox, since the end of their distribution deal with Paramount Pictures.
The Croods received generally positive reviews, and proved to be a box office success, earning more than $578 million on a budget of $135 million, and launching a new franchise, with a sequel and TV series already put in development.
Eep (Emma Stone) is a girl in a family of cavemen living and hunting in pre-historic times, talking about how her family is one of the few to survive, mainly due to the strict rules of her overprotective father, Grug (Nicolas Cage). In their cave home, Grug tells a story to the family, which includes his wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), his daughter Sandy, his son Thunk (Clark Duke), and his mother-in-law Gran (Cloris Leachman) with a character who mirrors Eep's curious nature. He uses this story to warn the family that exploration and 'new things' pose a threat to their survival, and says to never not be afraid. This irritates the bored and adventurous Eep, and when the family falls asleep after dark, she ignores her father's advice and leaves the cave when she sees a light moving outside.
Seeking the light's source, she meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a clever and inventive caveboy. She at first attacks him but then becomes fascinated with the fire he creates and is eager to learn more. He tells her about his theory that the world is reaching its 'end' and asks her to join him. She refuses and Guy leaves, but not before giving her a noise-making shell to call him if she needs help. Eep is then caught by Grug (who had been searching for her), and is later grounded for what she had done. Grug brings Eep home and is joined by the rest of the family, who Eep tells about Guy and shows the shell given to her, only for them to destroy it in fear of 'new things'. An earthquake then occurs, sending everyone running for the cave, only to be stopped by Grug moments before the cave is destroyed by falling rocks. They climb over the wreckage to discover a land with lush vegetation, much different from their usual surroundings of rocky terrain. Grug takes his family into the forest to find a new cave.
The family is chased by a "Macawnivore" (a large, macaw-colored machairodont later called 'Chunky') and attacked by a swarm of "Piranhakeets" (deadly red-furred, piranha-like birds). In panic, Eep sounds a horn similar to that which Guy gave her. Guy hears this and rushes to her. Thinking quickly, he creates a torch of fire, which scares the birds away. The other Croods are captivated by the fire, having never seen it before. They steal Guy's torch and accidentally set the land around them in flames. Some giant corn is also lit, which rockets up to the sky, prompting a display of fireworks. After feeling impressed by Guy's intelligence and 'ideas', Grug bottles him in a hollow log to carry him in, then suggests that they take solitude in the cave of a nearby mountain mentioned by Guy. Guy is forcibly persuaded to lead the way and learns of the Croods' way of living, which he thinks of as unusual.
After an unsuccessful hunting attempt, Guy, his 'pet' sloth, Belt (Chris Sanders), and Eep build a puppet to fool and lure nearby animals. After they make a capture, the family greedily devours everything they caught. Grug then tells another of his morale-lowering tales, this time mirroring the events of their day. Guy then tells a story of his own about a paradise he nicknames "Tomorrow".
The next day, the family reaches a path coated in spiked rocks which Grug, Thunk, and Gran get pricked upon trying to cross them. A freed Guy presents one of his inventions called shoes. He makes some out of all the resources he can find for each family member. This gains him some respect from the others except for Grug, who feels jealous of Guy's cleverness. After Guy's ideas help the Croods on their journey, the family members gain something. Ugga, Gran, and Sandy have their first idea to get past carnivorous plants by hiding under flower heads as they pass, Thunk encounters and befriends a crocodile-like dog he calls Douglas, and Eep and Guy grow closer while Grug is stranded in a ravine forcing Ugga to go back for him. The next day, Grug shows the others some of his ideas (like a see-saw, shades made out of wood, a snapshot that involves the family being slammed with a flat rock) which fail and humiliate him. They soon reach the mountain where Grug is unable to convince the family that settling in a nearby cave is a better option. Angry, he attacks Guy. The two become stuck in tar and Guy reveals his family died drowning in it and their last words inspired his traditions of "Tomorrow." Grug has a change of heart towards Guy and he and Guy trick Chunky into freeing them by pretending to be a female "Macawnivore" in trouble.
As they are about to reach their destination, an earthquake opens a deep ravine in their path. Grug throws each of them across the gap and reconciles with Eep while creating the first hug with her. Grug then throws her across the ravine and is left behind. He takes shelter in a cave and makes a torch. After seeing a blank rock face, he paints a large cave-drawing of the Croods and Guy together. He then encounters Chunky, who attacks him until Grug's torch is accidentally blown out, panicking them both. The newly reformed Chunky lies near Grug, who has his first good idea. He uses a skeleton carried by the Piranhakeets to transport himself, Chunky, Douglas, and several other animals across the ravine, barely escaping the oncoming "end" destruction. He, along with the rest of the family and the animals, settle down in a paradise-like environment. Grug becomes less protective, letting the family be more adventurous and risk-taking, thus bringing happiness to them all.
- Nicolas Cage as Grug Crood, a caveman who is the well-meaning, overprotective but old-fashioned patriarch of the Croods family.
- Emma Stone as Eep Crood, a rebellious teenage cavegirl who is Grug and Ugga's eldest daughter and is filled with curiosity and a desire for adventure.
- Ryan Reynolds as Guy, a nomadic caveboy who is not as strong as the Croods, but prefers using his brain and comes up with various ideas and inventions. He is accompanied by a sloth named Belt and is Eep's love interest.
- Catherine Keener as Ugga Crood, a cavewoman who is Grug's wife. She is more open-minded than Grug, but also finds it difficult to keep her family safe.
- Clark Duke as Thunk Crood, a caveboy who is Grug and Ugga's son. Thunk is the 9-year-old middle child, who is not very bright and has bad coordination but has a good heart. He gets a crocopup named Douglas for a pet.
- Cloris Leachman as Gran, a very old and ferocious cavewoman who is the mother-in-law of Grug and the mother of Ugga.
- Chris Sanders as Belt, Guy's pet sloth.
- Randy Thom as Sandy Crood, Grug and Ugga's ferocious baby daughter who still bites and growls instead of speaking. Thom created her voice with creature noises.
The film was announced in 2005 under the working title Crood Awakening, originally a stop motion film being made by Aardman Animations as a part of a five-film deal with DreamWorks Animation. John Cleese and Kirk DeMicco had been working together on a feature based on Roald Dahl's story The Twits, a project that never went into production. But DreamWorks got a copy of their script and liked it, and invited Cleese and DeMicco over to take a look at the company's ideas to see if they found something they would like to work with. They chose a basic story idea about two cavemen on the run, an inventor and a luddite, and wrote the first few drafts of the script. With the departure of Aardman in beginning of 2007, the rights for the film reverted to DreamWorks.
In March 2007, Chris Sanders, the director of Lilo & Stitch, joined DreamWorks to direct the film, with intentions to significantly rewrite the script. In September 2008, it was reported that Sanders took over How to Train Your Dragon putting The Croods on hold, and thus postponing its original schedule for a year to a then planned March 2012. The film's final title, The Croods, was revealed in May 2009, along with new co-director, Kirk DeMicco. In March 2011, the film got another delay, being pushed back a year to March 1, 2013, and finally settled at March 22.
The Croods had its world premiere in the out of competition section at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival on February 15, 2013. It premiered in the United States on March 22, 2013. The film was the first feature film to be shown in the 4DX format, featuring strobe lights, tilting seats, blowing wind and fog and odor effects in Hungary, which is shown at the Cinema City theater in Budapest,Hungary.
The Croods is scheduled to be released on Blu-ray (2D and 3D) and DVD on October 1, 2013. The DVD and Blu-ray will come with a Belt plush toy.
The Croods has received generally positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 69% based on 127 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "While it may not be as (ahem) evolved as the best modern animated fare, The Croods will prove solidly entertaining for families seeking a fast-paced, funny cartoon adventure." Another review aggregation website Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 55 based on 30 reviews.
Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "A visually dazzling animated adventure with a well-chosen voice cast is hampered by lackluster humor and a meandering story." Tom Russo of The Boston Globe gave the film two and a half out of four, saying "Had the movie figured out a way to stay the less-cliched course, it might have helped the DreamWorks oeuvre take steps toward Pixar's emotional resonance." Keith Staskiewicz of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C+, and wrote in his review, "A handful of adrenalizing sequences of animated anarchy can't save this story from feeling overly primitive." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "Further back on the evolutionary chain than the Flintstones, and also lagging in the comedy stakes, this sweet Stone Age clan nonetheless will captivate the youngsters." Leslie Felperin of Variety found that "The main problem with the film is that the script simply isn't very funny, and its various subplots never quite mesh satisfyingly together."Tirdad Derakhshani of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The movie is well-edited and lean, a fast-paced, action-filled bit of froth that manages to be diverting and surprisingly fun." Betsy Sharkey of The Los Angeles Timesgave the film two and a half stars out of five, saying "Too many of the "solutions" the guys concoct are so impossibly complex or just downright ridiculous — puppetry comes to mind — that like the continents, it's a little too easy to drift away."
Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times gave the film three out of five stars, saying "The movie is at its most interesting and amusing when riffing on how cavemen might have reacted to new experiences and ideas, like fire and shoes. Whether the kiddies will appreciate that is unclear, but they’ll certainly like the voice work done by Emma Stone as Eep." Nell Minow of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars, saying "Despite a few too many mother-in-law jokes, The Croods nicely makes it clear that even before they had fire, families understood how important it was to cherish and protect each other." Tom Keogh of The Seattle Times gave the film three out of four stars, saying "There isn’t much compelling sophistication to The Croods, not a lot to engage adults beyond a couple of Wile E. Coyote moments for hapless Grug." Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post gave the film two and a half stars out of five, saying "The Croods is just good, goofy fun, for a generation too young to have met Bamm-Bamm. But for those of more precocious intellects, it offers a little something extra to chew on besides rock-smacking slapstick and a brontosaurus burger." Richard Corliss of Time said that "The family-dramedy genre that the film inhabits demands a bit more narrative ingenuity than is on display." Peter Howell of the Toronto Star gave the film two stars out of four, saying "The filmmakers may have misjudged their audience. They aim low enough so that tots won’t be terrified, but adults, teens and older children may well be bored by the blandness."
As of July 7, 2013, The Croods has grossed $185,125,189 in North America, and $393,423,109 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $578,548,298.
In North America, the film earned $11.6 million on its opening day. On its opening weekend, the film topped the box office with $43.6 million from 4,046 locations, a vast improvement over the DreamWorks Animation's directly preceding release Rise of the Guardians,yet still below some of the studio's other original films, like Megamind and How to Train Your Dragon.
Outside North America, the film topped the box office during its first weekend with $62.4 million (including previews from the previous weekend). The biggest opening weekend were achieved in the UK, Ireland and Malta ($8.08 million), Russia and the CIS ($7.82 million), and Mexico ($4.37 million)
A video game based on the film, titled The Croods: Prehistoric Party!, was released on March 19, 2013. Developed by Torus Games, and published by D3 Publisher, it was adapted for Wii U, Wii, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS. The game enables players to take the members of the Croods family on an adventure through 30 party-style mini-games.
A mobile game, titled The Croods and published by Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds, was released on March 14, 2013 to the iOS andAndroid platforms.
Sequel and TV series
On April 17, 2013, it was announced that DreamWorks Animation has started developing a sequel to the film, with Sanders and DeMicco returning to direct the sequel.
On February 13, 2013, DreamWorks Animation filed a trademark for The Croods for "entertainment services in the nature of an animated television series," hinting that DreamWorks is developing an animated TV series spin-off of The Croods, in the same vein as other DreamWorks TV series spun-off from popular films. In April 2013, Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, declared The Croods as their sixth franchise, saying that a TV series is expected, along with other "location-based entertainment.