You wanna know a film I remember from my childhood? All Dogs Go To Heaven. You wanna know why I remember said film from said childhood? It scared the living shit out of me. That’s right, I got so scared my shit came to life and started crawling out my butt all like, “Arrggg, I’m a frightening shit monster!!!!!”
But seriously, folks. All Dogs ruled. There was death, the main character did evil things for questionable reasons, there was even a little Satan Bulldog dude who freaked children out on the reg. Now, here’s the bigger and more important question, do wanna know why that film was important to my development as a child? It challenged me. Something that doesn’t happen enough in kid films these days and is the reason for this review. Because The Croods wants to challenge your children. But, thanks to decades of parents treating their kids like fragile eggs, The Croods can’t actually challenge your kids. And that’s a bad thing.
The Croods is the latest Dreamworks cartoon. It’s about a family of cavemen who go on a road trip once they realize the world is ending. And, as has become standard with Dreamworks Animation, it lacks the importance and charm of anything Pixar has touched.
Right off the bat, the film shows us a family on the edge. Food is scarce. The other cavemen have died. The world is rapidly changing. The director throws in deep, important themes but quickly abandons them for cheap physical humor.
Now, I’m not railing against a comedy being a comedy, but this film wants to be something important. It wants to make you laugh, yes, but it throws down very dark themes that cheapen any undercurrent of humor the film has, and vise-a-versa.
Worse yet, when we make it to the end, after an hour and a half of misused ideas, the director throws in two endings. The first ending is possibly the greatest and darkest ending of any children’s film I’ve seen since Up. It’s important. It’s thought provoking. And it will definitely force parents to come home and have a conversation with their children.
But then, because this is Hollywood and Hollywood doesn’t abide anything thought provoking, the director adds on another ending that erases the melancholy climax with a standard, and nauseatingly forced, happy ending. They take what could have been a memorable cartoon and turned it into something I probably won’t remember past my next yank-fest.
But, what nags me is wondering if parents really want this for their kids. I’m not a parent. I don’t get kids. Yes I eat up cartoons like day old cheesecake, but children are foreign midgets to me. Yet, if I had a kid, I wouldn’t want them to watch forgettable bullshit. The entire purpose of watching film is to learn, to grow. And the only way kids are going to do that is to show them movies that won’t pander or coddle them.
Again, I could be way off base, but the idea that kids deserve a happy ending because they’re young is insulting. I’ve forgotten every boring ass generic cartoon I watched as a child. The ones that stuck with me, the one’s I still watch to this day, were ones that dared to push me as a youth, ones that had a dark edge and stuck to it. The Croods unquestionably has a dark edge, it just doesn’t have the stones to stick to it.
Film With The Dark First Climax: B+
Film With The Generic Second Climax: C