OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Caveman family comedy 'The Croods' safe from extinction

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-03-26T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Caveman family comedy 'The Croods' safe from extinctionBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

It wasn't until sometime last year that I first heard the expression "helicopter parents," the term assigned to parents who excessively hover over their children in an attempt to shelter them from any and all of life's unpleasantness.

Of course, the real world isn't just a parade of everything made easy.

This is the important lesson told, and so very entertainingly so, in the new 3-D animated film "The Croods" by DreamWorks, and distributed by 20th Century Fox.

It opened last weekend at the top of the box office earning $44.7 million, which is nothing short of being a smashing success.

The story premise for this hour and half computer-animated PG-rated flick is about a family of cave folk who have survived the Ice Age and now face new uncertainly as early earth and the animal inhabitants continue to change and develop.

It stars the voice of Nicolas Cage as the father and Katherine Keener as the mother, who believe staying hidden in a cave is the key to survival, rather than facing the unknown that awaits with the outside world.

The couple's children don't exactly have the same views as their parents, especially pre-teen daughter Eep, voiced by Emma Stone, who longs for a life not shadowed by her parents and refusal to take chances. Her younger brother and baby sister are a little less adventurous. The last addition to the family is their grandmother, voiced by Cloris Leachman, who is described as "very old" by caveman life expectancy, since she is the ripe-old age of 45.

Life changes for the family after their cave domain is destroyed and they meet a young caveman teen named Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), who is a stranger from another unknown tribe with new ideas and means (including fire and shoes) which frighten and challenge the family, with the exception of the teen daughter, who is instantly smitten.

The film has lots of action-packed chase scenes, funny sight-gags and plenty of humor that appeals to adults. Although, the creators opted to dream up many silly, fantasy prehistoric creatures, while I think it would have worked just as well to have based the animal life on actual counterparts that really existed at the time. (There are some references to real animals of period, like whales that walked on land and sloths.)

It's shouldn't surprise that this film's characters and setting attract adults, as well as children. Remember, when  Hanna-Barbera's "The Flintstones" premiered on ABC on Sept. 30, 1960, it debuted as a prime-time series at 8:30 p.m., and was an instant hit. (Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble even did commercials for Winston cigarettes!)

There are plenty of qualities to like about "The Croods." It has a very old-fashioned quality attached to the story and the characters. It doesn't push the envelope, nor flirt with subjects of bad taste. And I don't think the film necessarily needs to be seen in 3-D. In today's tough box office climate, "The Croods" are the perfect cinematic example of "survival of the fittest."

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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