The Croods is absolutely worth watching. I was a bit unsure when I first sat on my comfortable sofa to watch it, but at the end I would delightfully say Yes, that one and half hours was not wasted. The movie was entertaining, unexpected, immensely colorful and funny, which created an adventurous mix. Writer/directors Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders have also worked on animated classics like Space Chimps, Lilo & Stitch, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.
Released in 2013, The Croods is a 3D animated comedy+adventure from DreamWorks for all ages. Set in prehistoric times, the story focuses on a family of cavemen who must change their ways once they find out that the world as they know it is ending.
The audience is quickly thrust into a Crood family adventure. They live off of bird eggs, berries, insects and any animal they can find. A typical morning run shows the Croods chasing a fantastical ostrich.
Enjoined by patriarch Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage) to “never not be afraid,” the Croods hunt as a pack by day and huddle in a cave by night to hide from a delightfully designed gang of made-up monsters, such as the self-explanatory Bear Owl and the Macawnivore, a colorful saber-toothed tiger variant roughly the size of a rhino. Grug’s wife, Ugga (Catherine Keener); son, Thunk (Clark Duke); mother-in-law, Gran (Cloris Leachman); and younger daughter, Sandy, are all content to stick to the routine. But teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone) longs for broader horizons and a literally brighter view of the world.
One night, Eep ventures outside of the cave at night and meets another human named Guy (Ryan Reynolds). Guy, the only survivor of a family that, judging by his elegant slim frame, more erect posture and higher forehead, must have been a bit further up the evolutionary ladder. Eep has never seen another one of her kind before and is astounded. After some tugging and strangling, Guy tells Eep that the world is ending. He calls it “The End.” At first Eep does not believe Guy, but the next day, it happens: a thunderstorm/avalanche hits the land, and the Croods’ world crumbles, including their cave, the only home they have ever known. Eep begins to understand what Guy was talking about, but when she tries to tell her family, they shut her up. No, not the whole family, her father shuts her up.
The next scene widens viewers’ eyes as much as it does Eep’s: A new world has replaced the one that fell apart; a world full of color, new creatures and diverse landscapes. It reminds us the world in James Cameron’s Avatar. The new world contains blue monkeys, miniature elephants and land whales. The new creatures are just as afraid of the Croods as the family is of them. The thrill ends quickly when monsters emerge: an army of flying Piranha fish. Using a conch shell given to her by Guy, Eep calls upon him to rescue her family from the Piranha Army. As in a fairytale, Guy is not far away, hears Eep’s call loud and clear, and comes running to save the family.
As the hero, Guy promises to get the family to higher ground in order to avoid “The End.” This is where the film’s real journey begins. All of this adventure and change is exciting for the Croods, but Grug does not like it. He has the familiar plot line where he falls to the bottom after being on top and struggles with the change. But yes, eventually, he gets back on the horse. So, that’s the basic storyline we see in the movie.
The main thing that I have noticed in the film is that the script simply isn’t very funny, and its various subplots never quite mesh satisfyingly together; apart from Grug, Eep and Guy, the other characters add little to the proceedings apart from a few feeble jokes. Yet these story deficiencies are well covered by the pacey, smoothly animated action scenes, delivered at regular intervals. Highlights include an early hunt, with a football-like egg passed from character to character, that gains much from well-timed; and a nifty escape sequence involving volcanic eruptions, sticky tar and, of all things, puppets made for deceiving purposes. Kids will be mesmerized by the wonderful and vibrant color palette, particularly in the “Avatar”-like jungle setting, and throughout the film, animators have focused on how different kinds of light (moon, sun, fire) play on the surfaces of skin, hair and landscape.
According to the director, the Zion National Park (Utah, USA) inspired landscape and strange floral designs and hybrid creature designs were created to seem like alien to get the audience in the same mindset as the cavemen. To visualize the more animal-like features of the Croods family than the Guy, the characters were developed to put their hands down on the ground in a loose way, or go down on all fours every now and then. The directors have made them all to have animal characteristics, so Grug moves like a gorilla and Eep is more like a jungle cat; and Gran has her crocodile moments. They tried to infuse their physicality in the way they hold their hands and feet, including the angles they chose for them to stand in. For example, they turn their feet in and the souls of their feet sideways when they walk. Meanwhile, the creatures were designed as evolutionary dead-end hybrids.
The lighting technology used in the film is really up to the standard. Because, we can clearly observe that the family really felt like it was in a cave because we could see reflectivity come not just from a source but literally from the floor where light was streaming in softly and it placed everything in the same environment.
The behavior of fire, depending on how a character interacted with it, was crucial. And when you look at a character’s skin and the broad sheen that the fire created, it really emphasized the heat. So, technology-vise and in art direction, the creators have done a decent job in the film making it more attractive and pleasing to watch without disturbing the main storyline of the film.
Is that all? I don’t think so. In the first layer, we can clearly identify this movie as a story of some prehistoric family (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) and its struggle to survive in a more challenging and a changing world with the help of a more advanced guy (Homo Sapiens Sapien). If you stretch this canvas far enough, you could say it answers the question of the missing link with a little prehistoric love between Homo Sapiens Sapiens and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis — a theory, by the way, which modern DNA decoding supports. So, this movie clearly interprets a vital part of the story of human evolution. Can we settle with that? Or can we feel something far more advance than this story? Does this movie talk about the inner fear that resides deep in our minds to accept and to adapt to the never-ending change we have to face in our lives? Does this criticize the conservative and more traditionalistic nature of humankind?
Yes, it is. Apart from that, according to my opinion this film tells the story of the science and the religion. Yes, this movie tells us how religion got in the way of mankind to their progress. Specially in the days of Galileo Galilei.
The movie starts with a narration of Eep, “With every sun, comes a new day. A new beginning. A hope that things will be better today than yesterday. But not for me…” Eep, expresses how desperate she is to experience new things and to do different things. But, she can’t. Why? She was forced to follow a serious and a very strict set of rules. These rules are vital for their survival. Yes, but surviving is not living? Isn’t it? That’s the question Eep was asking her father each and every night when they hide inside the cave they live. Here, Eep symbolizes the people who always wanted to make a change and explore new horizons, experiment and actually live the life.
Grug, represents the priests who always want to keep the society conservative. Yes, they guarantee the welfare of the society but, in return the people need to sacrifice their freedom. People have to obey what the priests say, the patriarchs of the society. What, the people (specially) lived in the 1500s had to face under the rule of the catholic church was skillfully presented in the movie.
The cave represents the religion and the church, Grug, is the priest who always say “follow the rules!”. According to Eep “He was strong, and he followed the rules. The ones painted on the cave walls. Anything new is bad, curiosity is bad. Going out at night is bad. Basically, anything fun is bad.” Along with this comes Grug’s favourite quote “never not be afraid”. This line instantly reminds us the quotes like, “Beware of the Dark! Beware of the sin!” type religious quotes. So, basically Grug the priest needs to maintain his superiority over the others and to rule them while keeping them safe.
Thunk represents the sect in the society who blindly follow the religion. In the film, this character was carefully built as a fool who follows nothing, but what father would say. This was clearly seen in the movie where Thunk foolishly waits for his father’s signal to come out of the cave.
“I’m waiting for the signal, Dad.”
“Never mind, Thunk. Just come out.”
“But if you don’t give the signal, how do I know you’re my dad?” These lines tell us the nature of Thunk and how idiotic and how traditional he is.
Gran on the other hand was hated by Grug, maybe because she was old and difficult to controll or maybe because she is different. She has a tail. I think Gran symbolizes the sects that seek reformations inside their religions. Like Martin Luther who came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Gestures and feelings shown by Grug when something come out of the death of the Gran portraits this in the movie.
But the uncontrollable and curious Eep sneaks out in the night and finds someone strange. This person is a guy called Guy. This name also has the feel of modernity in it. It sounds cool.
“And this is Belt. Cook, conversationalist, navigator. Also, keeps my pants up.” This scene, the improvements in the vocabulary like “keep my pants up” and the using of fire clearly indicates us that this Guy seriously is in a higher step in the evolution ladder than the Croods.
He introduces fire to Eep and he claims that he follows the Light.
“I hate the dark.” “Live, Follow the sun”. So, as you can see, this Guy character is a real explorer and a rule breaker. So, according to my interpretation this Guy represents the scientists, explorers, inventors like Galileo Galilei. Basically, Guy is a person who follow the science.
Here, The Sun and the light represents the Science and the knowledge. Throughout the film the message we can see and hear is follow the light. So, the message given is clear. Follow knowledge, follow science. You will always find answers.
So, as it was clearly indicated in the film the world was going to end and a new world is going to emerge. The protection that the Grug would give to his family will be insufficient to overcome this. Grug refuses to believe this, but after seeing the cave he loved so much disappear in to thin air he starts to consider. But, Grug doesn’t believe Guy in the first place. He sees Guy as an intruder with some skills that would lead to his own destruction one day.
Here, the writers symbolize the inability of the religions to stand alone in the changing world without adapting. The change is coming. Religions, the cave or its followers can’t stand alone in this scenario without the help of the light or the science. For an example, take a look at what happened in Italy in 1500s, Galileo observed through his telescope that what Johannes Kepler has said about the solar system was right. Earth is not in the center of the universe. He published his findings and what happened? The Catholic church refused Galileo’s findings and conducted two trials against him, ultimately putting him under home arrest for the rest of his life. But, after few hundred years the church had to apologize to Galileo after his death. Why? Because, at the end, the catholic church learned it in the hard way that you cannot limit the freedom of people forever. You have to let them go. You have to embrace the change. You have to change in order to survive. If the catholic church at some point in the history, didn’t make that choice, there will be only a handful of Catholics in the todays world.
So, this was skillfully and beautifully portraited in the film as how Guy earns the trust of the members of the Croods family one by one ultimately leaving no choice to Grug but to accept Guy and follow him. The story was nicely and masterfully build up using the characters and objects in the film as symbols. The two mountains where Guy seeks to find the light symbolizes a common thing we all see in religions. Almost all the religions have sacred mountains, a mountain is a high ground. So, practically if the heaven exists and if it is in the sky, it will be the closest place to the heaven. This symbolizes that what we can expect on the top of the mountain is something basically good.
And, look at the changing world that the directors have created in the film. There are flying fish, walking whales, pigmy mammoths etc. This clearly shows that what the religion has taught or the Crood family has learnt was not right or it can be changed. The world outside religion is vast. It can be totally different than you imagine. For an instant the Crood family faces the flying fish attack on the bottom of a dry sea. That mood of the sea was created using the aquatic beings we see in the modern world.
However, at the end of the film the Guy and the Croods family had to get the help of the Grug to “Travel to the Tomorrow”. It’s Grug’s strength that gave them the momentum to go to the other side.
So, what does this mean? As much as the religion needs science, does Science needs the religion? It’s for us to decide.