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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Road to the Oscars: The Croods

I started this Road to the Oscars series for two reasons: to compare and contrast The Wolf of Wall Street and soft-core porn and to complain about Monsters University's snub in the Best Animated Feature category.  I've done the former, now on to the latter.

When the Academy Award nominees were announced, I was, for the second year in a row, largely uninterested.  Blame it on spending most of my disposable income on work snacks, thus not having enough cash on hand to purchase movie tickets, thus being at the whims of my father and the MPAA (Explanation: My dad and I go to the movies together a lot, for which he inevitably pays, and I have a long-standing rule that I will see nothing beyond a PG-13 with my old man.).  Blame it on being a father and spending most of free-time co-raising a child to be a productive, well-adjusted, non-psychotic member of society.  Heck, blame it on the rain, after all, it was falling, falling.  Simply put, I hadn't seen many of the films nominated.

[Aside: As of this writing, I have seen one of the Best Picture nominees (The Wolf of Wall Street) and I have a DVD copy of another one (Captain Phillips) currently residing on my kitchen table.  I have also seen The Croods.  Obviously.]

My interest was piqued, however, when I discovered that Monsters University, Pixar's most recent film and one of the films on my shortlist of favorite movies of the year, wasn't nominated for a Best Animated Feature award, while The Croods and Despicable Me 2 were.  

"The Croods?!?  Really?!  The Croods was better than Monsters University?!?" I screamed to the heavens, my hands balled into sweaty, shaking fists.  "This is blasphemy!  This is a conspiracy!  Dreamworks animated movies are nothing but piles of pop-culture belching garbage!  Pixar paints my dreams on the screen!  My parents saw The Croods on a cruise and liked it!  There is no way it's good!"

I remember the trailer for The Croods.  It was stupid, so, therefore, the movie was stupid.  Plus, I seemed to remember The Croods, as well as Despicable Me 2, getting awful reviews.  So, I paid Rotten Tomatoes a visit to make sure I hadn't just dreamed the universe's hatred of all things Croods.

Apparently, I had dreamed it.  The Croods has a 70%, which is not too shabby.  Despicable Me 2 is sitting pretty with a 75%.  Monsters University trumps them both with a 79%, but the films I was initially so excited to rail against proved to be at least worthy of Best Animated Feature consideration.  I had to devise a new tactic to take down The Croods. I decided to focus on Croods only, because I don't have time for sequels to movies I've never seen and apparently is popular mostly because it features giant yellow tic-tac monsters performing wacky Three Stooges stunts.  

And, what luck, The Croods is streaming on Netflix right now.  So, after eating some breakfast and working on an art project with my daughter this morning, I proposed a viewing of The Croods.  Quinn is always game for a movie, so she agreed immediately, with one condition: that it be a princess movie (We had watched Cinderella for the first time Friday night.)

"How 'bout a movie about cavemen instead?" I asked.

"OK."  She's pretty easy that way.

We watched The Croods.  It's great!

Not only is The Croods visually stunning, it's story, while not entirely original (fathers and daughters coming to terms with stuff or whatever), is deeply effective and heartfelt.  I'm not going to lie: I cried, cried to the point of tears rolling down my bearded cheeks.  It was one line that did it too.  I mean, I could feel the tears welling up during the penultimate scene of the movie--a moment I will try not spoil for spoiler-phobes in the audience--but it wasn't until the caveman father, named Grug and voiced by Nicolas Cage, which is never not weird/distracting/amazing, responds to his son, who has just said something like, "What if you don't make it, Dad?", with the line, "When you make, I'll make it," before tossing him across a chasm like a chubby, boy-shaped Frisbee, that the tears flowed freely.  Quinn wasn't aware that her father was having a complete breakdown on the couch, as she was pretending to take a picture of the movie with the defunct cellphone she uses to text Sesame Street characters.  "They better get to the cave," she said, turning to me, a giant smile on her face.  "They sure should, sweetheart," I snuffled, wiping my tears on a pillow.

Oh, yeah.  Quinn was taking fake pictures with her cellphone because The Croods is a tad overlong and she was kinda bored.  Granted, my daughter is 2-years-old, but there are some moments when the film drags.  The opening scene, however, when the Crood family works together to score an egg for breakfast, delighted my daughter immensely, so much so that she kept asking when they were going to get another egg. (Spoiler Alert: They do try to get another egg halfway through the film)

So, OK, fine, The Croods is great.  Congratulations on your Oscar nom.  Harumph!

Important note to cinema lovers: The Croods is fart joke-free.  Go forth and enjoy without hesitation.


Gabe Sealey-Morris said...

Oh, come on. You know if anybody farts with abandon, it's a caveman.

Matt said...

Oh, there's no denying that when it comes to historical accuracy, The Croods is a total hack job. Of course cavemen farted. It's in the Constitution!