We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
At least in some respects all children are Neanderthals. It is the grand challenge of parenthood to civilize these sometimes savage little creatures by teaching them language, manners and safety. Some of the most difficult choices parents must make come when we try to encourage children to be strong, brave, independent and adventuresome when it comes to accomplishing goals in school, sports and chores while protecting them from mistakes that could be hurtful or even devastating.
That's the idea behind "The Croods," the sweet, animated film about a prehistoric cave family. Familiar family dynamics are amusingly exaggerated in the Paleolithic setting, where the most basic necessities require everyone's full-time attention. The heavy-boned characters designed by the brilliantly witty Carter Goodrich ("Despicable Me," "Hotel Transylvania") may argue, but they demonstrate the strength of their bond on their hunting/gathering expeditions.
When this family goes out to get breakfast, they really go out to get breakfast. In a joyously choreographed race to get food, parents Grug (Nicolas Cage) and Ugga (Catherine Keener), Ugga's mother, Gran (Cloris Leachman), and their three children work seamlessly together somewhere between extreme dodgeball, an obstacle course and a rugby game. Even the happily feral baby joins in for a crucial maneuver.
Other than that, they stay inside a cold, dark, cave. None of the other families of their community have survived, and Grug is terrified of anything that he cannot control. So he tells his family that "curiosity is bad and anything that is new is bad." Keeping everyone alive is his full-time job. "Never not be afraid," he warns them. "Fear keeps us alive."