The plot centers on one of the last remaining cave families during prehistoric time who find themselves alone in a world that's evolving. Using a bolder to block their very small shelter, the family lead by Grug (Nicolas Cage) an over protective father, his very swift and cunning wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), their three children simpleton Thunk (Clark Duke), hyper curious teen Eep (Emma Stone) and their untamed baby Sandy the youngster who's the poster child for the phrase ‘Terrible 2's'. Included in the group is their only remaining elder Gran (Cloris Leachman) the first example of an insulting mother-in-law.
The group hunts together in their small realm of rocky hills with goofy prehistoric predators waiting for them to make a mistake so they can have a fleshy meal. Evenings are special for Eep who sneaks out in the dangerous twilight to check out the sunsets, her only view of the real outside world. On one occasion she meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a young teen who has evolved faster and has some amazing discoveries like fire and Eep gets instantly drawn to the stranger. When the earth starts falling apart a new adventure begins outside their comfort zone.
Fine voice casting makes the characters fun, ‘realistic', adventurous and lovable. While the whole ensemble deserves praise, stand outs include Nicholas Cage as the protective dad who feels his teenage daughter takes too many liberties, Cloris Leachman who plays the stubborn openly opinionated mother in law and especially Emma Stone as the curious and persistent daughter that's the thread to the whole story.
The animation and 3D of The Croods really shines with bright colors, superb settings and smooth skinned characters that are perfectly rendered to fit the voice talent. If you are deciding whether to choose 3D or 2D, I found the 3D to be excellent with a lot of things coming at you that the children will want to reach out and touch, get a charge out of some very funny flying antics, and a lot more. In one scene I almost thought I felt the burning embers that get exploded on the screen. Being a strong critic on 3D animation, I give this presentation a high mark for adding adventure realism, spirited action, constant dept of field and surprises galore to the production.
The film has been rated PG by the MPAA for some scary action. The characters are so lovable however, that anyone over the age of 3 should be fine with it. The best way would be to see the trailer with your child and watch their reaction.
FINAL ANALYSIS: The first animation surprise out to the gate for 2013 gets top grades. (A)