The Croods (d. Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders USA 2013)

The Croods (d.  Kirk De MiccoChris Sanders USA 2013)

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews.

 

It is more than obvious that CGI is a big part of the day. Pixar‘s success is completely based in the style of CGI. Cartoons have been reinvented and the new family film is based this new style. Toy Story (d. John Lasseter USA 1995), Shrek (d. Andrew Adamson, Vickey Jenson USA 2001), A Bug’s life (d. John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton USA 1998), Ratatouille (d. Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava USA 2007), Monsters Inc. (d. Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich USA 2001), Finding Nemo (d. Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich Australia/USA 2003) are all films that have inspired a new split in family films. Spirited Away (d. Hayao Miyazaki Japan 2001), Princess Mononoke (d. Hayao Miyazaki Japan 1997), Howl’s Moving Castle (d. Hayao Miyazaki Japan 2004) are a major answer to the CGI centred films, from our beloved Japanese. This is a basic debate within modern day family films. But taking an argument for the CGI we have The Croods. This is importantly a family film. The target audience is important because often the film has a lack of complexity typical of the genre. This isn’t helped by one of the faults of the CGI family film: the visually centred ‘look-what-we-can-do’-ness of the technology. But without many spoilers I would like to offer an analysis.

 

Despite what I have said in my introduction, I would like to offer a critique. Yes these are current debates that are important, however, Family films are meant to offer innocent fun. The movements of the characters seem to represent the ‘look-what-we-can-do’ ness of the film, but are humorous and entertaining. The film innocently shows family union. Often, I will admit, it isn’t successful in psychological accuracy. It is cheesy and simple. But, it is innocently funny. In fact, a way of its innocence is how the film plays with cultures. A modern day culture that knows about some advancements in culture/technology/style can laugh at a culture that may not know it all. CGI or Cartoon? Both would work, but I feel it needed to be one of the two. If it were live action the film would appear far too ‘real’. Since it is in CGI or Cartoon we can think ‘that’s silly!’ The film isn’t teaching us what these things are, merely revelling in our knowledge.

 

I will say, that even for an older audience, the plot works well. The care of the characters drive the film to its end. But, some of the subplots are lacking. Easy answers are offered for some of the character developments throughout the film. The family is brought closer together through easy means, despite the journey. The journey being a means which could have provided the complexity required of such psychological realism. However, I admit my discrepancy, this is a silly film. It’s played for laughs and basic entertainment accessible by anyone. Here, the film is really serious. It wants us to laugh, it wants to be understood and it wants to be silly.

 

I can’t shut up without mentioning the imagination that went into the film. With a CGI or Cartoon film, you have the potential to create imaginative sequences much easier than in live action. Here, the film offers quite interesting contradicting, never existing, crossbreeds. Bird-turtles. Piranha-birds. The bushbaby esque creatures with the joining tails. The far too alive flowers. The visuals aren’t meant to be stunning. But they are certainly imaginative. The paradoxes presented in such living creatures that could never be seen today work in such a historical environment. These colourful and vibrant creations add to the texture of the film and make for an imaginatively entertaining film.

 

One should not criticise a film for its genre. It is predictable, it is simple and its plots are awkward at times. But this is a film meant for everyone. Including those who aren’t familiar with the art of film. It is a film hard to stay mad at, entertaining for any child or inner child. 

 

Further Reading

The Croods on rottentomatoes.com

Interview

John Lasseter on CGI vs Animation

CGI, Stop Motion or Animation

Studio Ghibli and Pixar

A Comparison



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