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The Croods

The Croods is a fast-paced CGI comedy that ranks with the best of DreamWorks’ recent output. Writer-directors Chris Sanders ( How to Train Your Dragon) and Kirk DeMicco ( Space Chimps) put a lot into the mix: a looming apocalypse, a constant battle to survive, ferocious predators, plus more relatable matters like friction between an overprotective father and a rebellious daughter, the blossoming of young love, and the thrill of new discoveries. The action is consistently lively enough to delight very young viewers, while the character interactions have the kind of nuance that will satisfy their parents or guardians.

A hand-drawn opening, showing the terrible fates of neighboring families, establishes that the Croods are an especially hardy bunch just by virtue of staying alive. Much of that has to do with the justifiably cautious outlook of patriarch Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage), whose basic philosophy is “Fear is good, change is bad.” But his teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone) chafes against his strictures. The Crood family (which also includes mother Ugga, younger son Thunk, feral infant Sandy, and Ugga’s wizened mother Gran) soon find themselves at the center of an earthquake that destroys their sheltering cave, leaving them with no choice but to set off for parts unknown.

Beginning pre-quake with rather barren landscapes, The Croods expands out to fantastical, riotously colorful realms that rival the CG designs of Avatar. And those new horizons are populated with a zany array of fanciful creatures, such as bear-owls, mini-elephants, and a canine/crocodile hybrid that becomes history’s first pet. Watch out, Flintstones, the Crood era has begun.

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The Croods

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