The Croods (PG, 99 mins)
Directors: Kirk DeMicco,Chris Sanders
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Far from skulking in Pixar’s shadow like they did for most of the Noughties, Dreamworks Animation has upped their game considerably in recent years thanks to the likes of Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon.
But while Pixar have had to face one or two recent blips, Dreamworks have also taken a backwards step with their latest, The Croods, as flat and unengaging an animated comedy as a major production company has made in years.
The Croods of the title are a cave-dwelling prehistoric family in a harsh and unforgiving world, where every day is a struggle to eat and not be eaten. Dad Grug (Nicolas Cage) hammers home the message of danger and how no good can come of anything new, and is obsessed with keeping them all safe in their cave.
Daughter Eep (Emma Stone) is going through a teen rebel stage and longs for some fun, which happens along when she meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who claims the world is ending and that they need to get to high ground.
Outwith the setup of a story that’s both strained and lacking in any real hook, many elements seem added at random. When their cave is destroyed the Croods end up in a strange and colourful new world that owes a lot to Avatar, but makes little sense in most other regards.
And the largely charmless story is a road to nowhere. Thematically it’s thin, its main concern about parents letting go and kids growing up anything but new. Chaotic, and lacking any immediate appeal from either characters or plot, The Croods is little more than an awful lot of running and bouncing and falling for no real reward.