Another family animation from the DreamWorks stable, The Croods is enjoyable on many levels, from the story to the scientific theory which underpins it. When the earth begins to undergo some major environmental alterations, this pre-historic family is forced to undertake a hard journey through a harsh environment, in order to survive.
For father Grug (Nicholas Cage), survival is the name of the game, and two simple rules are dogmatically adhered to, in order to achieve this: 1. Stay inside the cave, only leaving it when absolutely necessary; 2. Anything new is dangerous. Any deviation from these rules = death (makes for some amusing bed time stories). However, eldest daughter Eep (Emma Stone) displays a curiosity for her environment, much to her parent's consternation. Enter Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a wanderer in this strange land, bringing news of the impending earth changes, and offering help in adapting to these changes. Change is anathema to Grug, but the destruction of their cave home, means they must find a new way to survive, and even more scary, a new way to live!
The family interactions are clichéd, though still amusing (the typical 'in-law' tension, the sensible 'mom' who strives for family unity against pig headedness, and the protective/ jealous father as his daughter begins to feel the stirrings of first love- I hope some of the fathers taking their young daughters to see the film take note)!
As mentioned, the scientific theory underlying the story is interesting, even if the historical time line is a bit mixed up. However, anyone who has a subscription to the National Geographic channel will recognise the super continent Pangaea splitting up and drifting to form the world as we now know it (this is also explained at the start of the film), as well as the theories about what happened to Neanderthal man when Cro-Magnon man took over. Whilst it's not necessary to know any of this back ground, it does add an extra element to the level of enjoyment. Ultimately, the message is that thinking and adaptability can carry one farther than a rigid interaction with the world, and it is much better to live life, even with all the attendant risks, than to simply survive.
On a side note, it was also nice not to be bashed incessantly with an overt 'Eco-guilt' message. The environmental changes occurring in the film had nothing whatsoever to do with the character's actions, so there was no stern, finger waggling lecture by the film makers through the screen, guilting the audience for not recycling enough, and for having travelled by car to the cinema.