Sunday, March 31, 2013

Release the baby!

Last week, there was an envelope left in the back of my Jeep. Even though I was the one who asked for it, I didn't even want to handle it, let alone actually look at it. And while this envelope literally contained a single word, it was a word that could potentially change everything. In our house, this envelope was the equivalent of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. We wanted to see inside it so badly, but it was even better to endlessly speculate.

The poster? Awful. The movie? Not so much.
This letter has, shockingly, nothing to do with The Croods, but everything to do with how I felt about it as the credits rolled. I wasn't thinking about it for the first third of the movie, but when it finally dawned on me, I couldn't shake it. Trust me, this will be relevant.

The Croods, in case you don't have a three-year old son (who watches channels that feature the preview extensively), tells the story of one family trying to survive the dangers of prehistoric times. Oh, and by family, I mean the only family, as numerous catastrophes have claimed the rest. The result? An overprotective dad (solidly voiced by Nic Cage) figuratively and literally smothering his wife and kids to preserve his family as long as possible.

The safety-first plan is working out just fine for Dad, until his teenage daughter, Eep, meets a boy named Guy. Guy's arrival signals the end of the world, both for Dad's control over the family, and in a greater sense, too. The landscape, it seems, is changing rapidly.

While my son was there just to see Belt go 'dun-dun-duhhhhhh' like he did in the preview, my wife and I were looking for a little more. Somewhat surprisingly, we got it. See, The Croods, as oddly generic as it is at times, is a breath of fresh air, too. There's no contemporary soundtrack, no annoying pop-culture references, no product placement, and thank god, no aliens. Oh, and even better, it's not a sequel. It's a simple tale about a dad, at odds with his teenage daughter, doing his best to keep his family together. We liked it, and if you make it all the way through, you might too. Even if just a little bit.

Speaking of things you might (barely) enjoy, here are those cave-dwelling mouth breathers, the Yays and Boos. They wanted to stay home and watch episodes of The Flintstones on YouTube, but we convinced them otherwise.

Put a shirt on, jerk.
  • The little animation in the beginning, detailing the demise of mankind, was very cool and clever.
  • Nic Cage, the enigma. The longing and exhaustion built into his voice was perfect. He gets extra credit for sneaking in sucky, which I swear is his favorite word.
  • Speaking of Cage, his momentary joy every time his mother-in-law was presumed dead was priceless. I thought it would get old, but I smiled every time.
  • And while we're talking about repeated gags, my son happily counted four 'dun-dun-duhhhs' total. He was so happy, the goofball. Belt frickin' rules.
  • The breakfast scene, early on, was really inspired. The score was nuts, too.
  • Even though it's a family film, put me down as a supporter of the Family Kill Circle.
  • I don't know why Ryan Reynolds doesn't get a lot more work, as charming as the guy is. But his voicework was definitely appreciated here.
  • Also appreciated, the weird creatures that inhabit The Croods. The Piranha Birds were a favorite, but damn near every creature turned out to be pretty cool. 
  • A lot of the ideas and inventions were charming. My favorite was Emergency Idea Generator, aka Rock to the Head. Oh, and don't forget the genesis of...the hug.
  • John Cleese? Really? That's awesome.
  • And finally, the last ten minutes were very satisfying. Not only Dad's loving grand gesture, but what happens next as well. Going back for Doug sealed it for me.
Once. Just once. Can we get a grandfather? Please.
  • Why must Grandma always be the worst character ever? Surprisingly, she's not as bad as I thought she'd be. Still horrible, though. Just not punch the next old woman I see in the mouth bad.
  • And speaking of awful characters, the little dog baby made me cry inside. A lot.
  • I know they're supposed to be ugly, but damn! These are the some of the gnarliest looking characters ever. Well, those Frankenweenie [review] kids weren't exactly lookers either...
  • And finally, Emma Stone's character, Eep. She was annoying, frustrating and completely irrational. Good thing my little one is a boy. As a father, I don't think I could handle a teenage girl.
That envelope I was talking about? The one that seriously skewed my opinion of this movie (that we would see later that day)? It was never supposed to be opened. The contents never to be revealed. But if for some reason it had to happen, it was going to be during a small party or get together. Not inadvertently seen through, while straightening up the kitchen.

Anyway, the briefcase envelope please...

Um, sweetie, if it's say...2027 and you've been reading your Dad's old blog, there's something I need to tell you, if I haven't done so already. In fact, I can boil it down to those three magical words. You know, the words I tell your mom all the time...

I was kidding.


  1. Good review M. It was a sweet movie that doesn't try to re-invent any wheel, and does fine for what it is. Also, I really want to see the videos of Nic Cage actually doing the voice job for this movie. That's gotta be freakin' hilarious.

    1. I'm pretty sure Nic Cage doing just about anything is absolutely hilarious. Would make for some solid blu ray extras, no doubt.

  2. Congratulations on your daughter! And there are no words to describe how much I love the analogy to Marcellus Wallace's briefcase.

    In my limited experience, raising girls is MUCH harder than raising boys. With my daughters, it's constant drama. With my son, it's easy, straightforward stuff, like being afraid he'll bust his head wide open leaping off a scooter, at top speed, like he's auditioning for a pilot of Jackass Junior. I'll take the testosterone-laced stupidity over the drama any day. :-P

    But you really didn't want to hear any of that, did you? ;-) Seriously, babies are wonderful. I actually do miss that stage.

    The movie sounds cute, though we can wait 'til it comes out on DVD.

    1. Thanks, Steph. It's so crazy...I'm at a loss. I was somehow convinced, after one boy, that that was all I could produce. Well, co-produce.

      I have three brothers and a single sister, who we essentially just made a dude anyway, so I'm going into this clueless. Your assessment sounds pretty spot on. Boys are simple creatures (look at the content of this blog). Girls? Goodness. And women? There aren't words.

      Yeah, the movie is okay. Nothing spectacular, but nothing offensive either.

  3. Congratulations man. You will love it. Trust me.

    1. You have two girls, right? How old?

      I'm looking forward to it, definitely. It just freaks me out. A lot.

  4. 2 and 4... They are hilarious little human beings.

    1. That's great. My son's three and is pretty awesome.

  5. Congratulations! I'm sure it will be years before you have some big, crazy, girly crisis to deal with! :)

    1. Thanks! Hopefully at least ten.

      No, wait. Fifteen. Fifteen is good.

      Ah, Hell. Twenty seems fair, right?