So here’s the thing: The Croods
fails to conjure a complex or logically consistent world. It fails to populate that world with credible characters, or to usher those characters through a series of dramatically satisfying trials. But so what
? This is primitive, pre-Pixarian family entertainment at its most rambunctious. Psychedelic, exuberant and dumb, The Croods
, written and directed by Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco, harks back to a simpler time when so-called "family films,” including animated features from major studios like Warner Bros. and DreamWorks, were permitted—nay, expected—to be willfully incoherent, so long as they served up thrills, spills, zingers, romance and a healthy dose of innocuous schmaltz. Now, for better or for worse, filmgoers weaned on Pixar and Studio Ghibli have come to expect—nay, demand—sophistication and subtlety, not to mention visual pyrotechnics, from second-tier animated films (Ice Age
) that are, at their core, frivolous entertainment created to engage the imaginations of young children. Of course, not every animated feature can be WALL-E
; some of them have to be The Croods
. In a nutshell: Nic Cage, voicing a knuckle-dragging caveman, cracks wise, pulls faces and delivers zany, half-cooked monologues on death and love and family amid stunning, oversaturated landscapes that evoke both Dr. Seuss and early Tex Avery-era Looney Tunes. Allow me to reiterate: Nic Cage, cavemen, zaniness. That’s all you need to know, that’s pretty much all you’ll get, and that ain’t necessarily a bad thing.