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JLFM's Movie Reviews (152)

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The Croods 
Another Product Hot off the Assembly Line
1.5/4 stars

While companies like Pixar (and to a lesser extent, Disney) continue to innovate and take risks, Dreamworks is still using their same formula. The formula, of course, is use themes from better films, recycle all the same gags from previous efforts, splash some colorful visuals on it, and it if it does well, plan a sequel and a television series. Examples of this formula: Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and Shrek (though in it's defense, Shrek never got a TV series). Now, we can add The Croods to Dreamwork's extensive list of products.

The Croods is about a family of cavemen that are used to living in their protected cave. Eep, the oldest daughter of the family, wishes to explore the outside world, but her father, Grug, forbids it. But the entire family is pushed outside of their comfort zone when their cave is destroyed, and they are exposed to the wilderness. They find a tour guide of sorts named Guy (and his pet sloth, Belt) that promises to aid them on their journey. And so, the generic adventures begins.

So, let's count the cliches and rip-offs in The Croods. For one, we have the adventurous, free-spirited daughter (see Brave), and the overprotective father (see Finding Nemo). We have the father learning to adapt to his offspring's new way of life (How to Train Your Dragon). And we have the main character giving a spoken epilogue at the end of the film (nearly every CGI Dreamworks film) There are many other examples in the film, but this is all to say that there is nothing in The Croods that we haven't seen before in other animated films.

This is the same film that audiences have seen dozens of times. There is no reason to see this film, because odds are, you own an animated film that's almost exactly like this.

Occasionally, formula films can entertain, but The Croods is not an example of this. In fact, more often than not, The Croods is downright dull. The plot is uninteresting (and offensively generic), the characters are unlikable (as well as being either bland or a tired stereotype), and the entire film is absurdly predictable.

The humor in this film scarcely ever works. All of the gags seem aimed at the 10 and under crowd (and for that matter, the story seems that way too). With that being said, kids will probably love this movie, but there's nothing here for their parents or older siblings.

Even the animation is lacking. The visuals in the first 20ish minutes would've looked unimpressive 10 years ago. After the first 20 minutes, the animation picks up significantly with some beautiful environments, but the characters themselves still lack detail. However, I will say that some of the designs for the prehistoric creatures are very unique, and very creative, so if nothing else, there is at least a little originality in the creature design department.

The cast provides serviceable, but unimpressive (and forgettable) voices for the characters in the film. No stand-outs here.

The score, by Alan Silverstri, is fun at times. But one of the main themes sounds frustratingly similar to the Burning Bush theme from Prince of Egypt (a much better Dreamworks film, by the way).

It frustrates me to see a film so devoid of creativity, and so reliant upon the themes and ideas of other, better films. It frustrates me even more to see how much money these formula films make. Aren't audiences tired of seeing Dreamworks regurgitate characters, plots, and gags that they've seen in many other films, many other times? Aren't audiences getting bored with Dreamworks making the same film over and over? Well, if you disagree, then you're in luck: Like the franchises listed at the beginning of this review, The Croods is getting a sequel and a TV series. Frustrating is too weak a word for me to use. How about disgusted?

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