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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Croods

October 16th, 2013

The Croods - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack or 3D Combo Pack

The Croods opened in March with more than $40 million and lasted long enough to pull in more than $180 million domestically and $570 million worldwide. That's a very impressive run for a spring release. Did it deserve this box office success? Or did it thrive because of the lack of direct competition?

The Movie

The film begins with Eep telling the viewers about her family and their life. There's her father, Grug; her mother, Ugga; her bother, Thunk; her baby sister, Sandy; and then there's her grandmother, Gran. They are cavemen, and the only ones left, because the other cavemen families died off for various reasons. Her family is the only one left, because they follow the rules of survival, the most important one being, as her father says, "Never not be afraid!"

While this attitude might be keeping them alive, it is seriously getting to Eep, who wants a little more freedom. One night, when her family are in their cave locked away, she sees a light outside. The only light she's ever seen in her life is the sun, so this is quite a shocking discovery. When she follows the light, she meets Guy and his belt sloth, Belt. He shows her fire, but also warns her that the world is going to change. First there's going to be some shaking, and then their world will fall apart. He wants her to come with him, so she will be safe, but she refuses. He does give her a conch shell to call him, if she needs help, and then leaves.

About this time, Grug notices Eep is gone and goes looking for her. By the time she finds her, Guy is gone. However, he's mighty mad that Eep would leave the safety of the cave. He yells at her and explains that new is bad, because new is dangerous. When she gets home, her family is thrilled that she's alive, but when she talks about seeing something new, they freak out. They even destroy her conch shell, because new is bad. Before Eep can reach the pieces, the ground starts shaking, just as Guy said it would. The family tries to run to their cave, but their cave is destroyed and where the mountain once stood is a whole new world.

At first, Grug has no interest in taking his family into this new world, but it is either jump or get eaten, so they jump. However, down below in the jungle, it is also mostly run or get eaten. And when night falls, it is even worse. The family is about to be eaten by a swarm of carnivorous birds when Eep calls Guy. Guy is able to use fire to scare away the birds. However, his encounter with the rest of the family goes poorly. (They managed to burn down much of the area they were in.) He attempts to escape the following morning, but Eep wants him to stay and the rest of the family agrees, because they need his fire to keep them safe. Guy is able to at least convince them to head to where it is safe, to where the world isn't ending, but it will a long an difficult journey.

There are two types of good kids movies. Firstly, there are the ones that you can watch and enjoy, even if you don't have kids. Movies like Toy Story franchises fall under this category. Then there are the ones that kids will love and that adults watching with them will enjoy enough that they won't get upset if their kids want to see it again and again. The Croods fall under this latter category.

There are plenty of things this film does right, including a very bright and colorful world. Granted, the world is more an alien planet than prehistoric Earth, but it's a cartoon, so I'm not overly concerned about accuracy. In fact, this allows the animators' imaginations to fly, which is exactly the opposite of what would really happen if you put a turtle shell on a bird. (It's one of many strange animals the Croods come across in their journey). The voicework is also quite strong, stronger than expected. There are a lot of bigger names in the cast, but most don't have a lot of experience when it comes to animation. Some of the characters were quite well written. Eep is certainly better than most female characters you see in the movies.

On the other hand, there are some things that don't work. There's not a lot in this movie that is unique or original. Ice Age is the most obvious source of comparison, but it's not the only one. The story is nothing particularly new. At its heart, it is a story of a teenage daughter coming of age and butting heads with her father. Additionally, there are parts of the film that don't have enough energy and some of the jokes fall flat.

The Extras

I did not get a full screener, so I can't tell you exactly what is on the DVD or Blu-ray in terms of extras. I believe there is a featurette on the creatures seen in the movie, a featurette on how to draw some of these creatures, deleted scenes and more.

Since I don't have the full screener, I also can't comment on the technical presentation.

On the other hand, I can talk about the price. The DVD costs $15 on, while the Blu-ray combo pack costs $25. That's quite an increase in price. The 3D Combo Pack costs $30, so if you want high definition, that's the better deal.

The Verdict

The Croods is not among the best animated movies out there, but it is certainly better than most films aimed at kids. The world is bright and full of imagination, the characters are engaging, and the adventure should draw you in. It is worth checking out and even without a huge selection of extras, it is worth picking up for families. The DVD is the cheapest option, but if you want high definition, the 3D Combo Pack might be a better deal over the Blu-ray Combo Pack.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Croods, Toy Story, Ice Age, Nicolas Cage, Clark Duke, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Ryan Reynolds, Chris Sanders, Emma Stone, Randy Thom