The Croods (★★★)

croodsChalk this up to just missing some of the things of the first half of the year.  I finally was able to catch up with Dreamworks’ animated film The Croods, courtesy of an awards screener provided by the generous studio.  Featuring the all-star voice cast that includes Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, and Cloris Leachman, this gem tells the story of a family of cavemen that must adapt to a new world after their cave is destroyed.

Assembling some of the best writing talents in animation; Chris Sanders, who has worked on my favorite animated film of all-time The Lion King, Kirk De Micco, who worked on The Quest for Camelot, and John Cleese, Oscar-nominated writer for A Fish Called Wanda.  Each of them infusing their own beats to the story that feel both authentic and entertaining, I was overcome with joy frame to frame.  Sanders especially has come to be incredibly consistent in his abilities as a writer.  From Beauty & the Beast, to Aladdin, and in his later career with Lilo & Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon, the writer/director hasn’t misfired yet.  Likely one of our important animation talents working today.

Expertly gentle, capturing the thematic elements of family, the Dreamworks Animation film proves to be one of the year’s most entertaining films.  Its fast-paced storytelling keeps you invested throughout with a brilliant score by Alan Silvestri, composing one of his most delightful works.  How the man has gone this long with just two Oscar nominations (Original Song for The Polar Express and Original Score for Forrest Gump) is head-scratching.

Colorfully bright and visually sensational, films like Ferngully: The Last Rainforest come to mind, The Croods holds its simple story tightly wound and emotionally sound.  Though not astonishingly compelling or original in its actual premise, it’s a solid base hit that could find itself in Oscar contention in Best Animated Feature.  The opening scene, which is very reminiscent to Pixar’s The Incredibles nine years ago, goes for the same exposition while mostly succeeding.

croods_imageThere hasn’t been a better looking animated film this year.  There are moments of sheer awe-inspiring images that will leave you breathless.  A visual spectacle that will be cherished by the whole family. The movie truly comes alive in the third act, developing a raw, emotional connection with the viewer and leaving you in tears.  A hug between a father and daughter never felt so good to watch.  As for the original song, “Shine Your Way” which plays over the end credits, it’s quite effective with all the events that precede it.

The Croods is one of the year’s best animated films and simply delectable.  It’s out on Blu-Ray and DVD now.