Mildly amusing for kids, never quite entertaining for the adults who will be dragged to it, “The Croods” actually gets the most out of its mediocrity.
While there are some moments that work, this isn’t quite the franchise starter that I’m sure the studio hoped for.
“The Croods” is kind of an updated spin on “The Flintstones” – a prehistoric tale that follows a family that features a protective father named Grug (Nicholas Cage) and an adventurous daughter named Eep (Emma Stone).
One night Eep leaves the cave and meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a more advanced human species who warns of the world falling apart.
His warnings prove true, forcing the family on a journey to find a new home.
“The Croods” is slightly better than the “Ice Age” franchise, which continues to make money despite using essentially the same plot in all four films. The film is pleasant enough to look at, with almost a computer animation feel to it. Plenty of colors and set details keep it visually stimulating.
The problem is “The Croods” never quite balances the fine line between humor aimed for the young children and adults. More of the kiddy stuff works, including a monkey named Belt that provides some of the movie’s more humorous moments.
When “The Croods” tries to expand beyond its comfort zone and appeal to the parents, that’s when it doesn’t click. Adults looking for the crazy Cage will likely be disappointed, with a fleeting moment in the final act coming way too late.
For the most part it’s a movie that will pass time for kiddies on spring break, but not strong enough to make a lasting impression.
Also in theaters
While “The Croods” is aimed for kids, another film this week is anything but kiddie-fare – the outrageously stylish crime spree saga “Spring Breakers” (B).
Written and directed by Nashville native Harmony Korine, this is not exactly mainstream. It’s an independent film that will frustrate many but reward those looking for something different. It doesn’t always work, but it is never boring.
“Spring Breakers” follows four college girls – Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) – who finance their trip to Florida for spring break by robbing a restaurant.
Once they get in Florida they embark on the ultimate quest for excess, complete with booze, drugs, parties and sun. Their fun is cut short when they land in jail, but things look up when they are bailed out by a rapper/gangster named Alien (James Franco).
Alien at first opens a world to them that is more than they ever imagined. They quickly learn that this excess doesn’t come without a price.
“Spring Breakers” is “Girls Gone Wild” to the millionth degree, with Korine unearthing every dark undercurrent of the yearly escapade.
It’s interesting to see Gomez and Hudgens shed their Disney images, although Hudgens does a little more dirty work than Gomez. But the film is at its best when Franco is on the screen. I was critical of Franco’s work in “Oz the Great and Powerful,” but in this film, the actor is in his comfort zone.
The result is a gung-ho performance – Franco takes the character to some dark and disturbing places.
Franco’s insane performance keeps “Spring Breakers” afloat, even when it is in danger of jumping off the rails and going completely out of control.
I’m not sure how much I really like “Spring Breakers,” but at least it doesn’t try to play it safe.
That’s more than you can say for most of the 2013 releases to date.
“Spring Breakers” is rated R for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence throughout, and is now playing at the Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10.