The Croods Is No More Evolved Than Your Average Kids' Film

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Featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone. Directed by Chris Sanders. 96 minutes. Rated PG.

Regardless of its cavemen-acquire-brains plot, The Croods is no more evolved than your average kids' film, boasting modern attitude, animal-sidekick comic relief, familial struggles, and roller-coaster action. While rife with contemporary lingo that makes little sense for a story about a prehistoric clan facing extinction, Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders's bouncy CG adventure at least partially offsets its stock formula with passable one-liners and sincere heart. The latter comes from the tense relationship between cro-mag dad Grug (Nicolas Cage), who values survival in dark caves over living in the light, and curious and headstrong daughter Eep (Emma Stone), whose rebelliousness blossoms after meeting creative-thinking, fire-making hunk Guy (Ryan Reynolds). Amid chase sequences set in an Avatar-ish old-Earth of colorful fantasy animals and enormous vegetation, Guy introduces the Croods to inventions such as shoes and umbrellas -- newfangled ideas that threaten Grug's patriarchal authority and bond with Eep. That these ancient ancestors of ours have superhuman strength and speed is as perplexing as their banter is incessant. Their good-natured tale, however, does sweetly reconfirm there's life still in the oldest jokes, such as a father's fear of his daughter dating -- or, via a running gag involving Grug and Gran (Cloris Leachman), of a husband's hatred for his mother-in-law.

 
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