Yes, There’s a Scene After “The Croods” End Credits
March 25, 2013 3 Comments
As unimpressed as I was with the trailer, The Croods turned out to be an unexpected delight, with a sincere message for parents who want to protect their children from the world, but struggle with the knowledge that someday that job won’t be theirs anymore. (Says the nervous guy counting down the days until his son begins college.)
The titular family is typically composed. Grug (Nicolas Cage, hitting his stride at times in classic looney-tune mode) is the overbearing father who keeps his family safe with strict boundaries, violent cautionary tales, and a healthy fear of anything “new”. Ugg (ubiquitous art-film MVP Catherine Keener) is the mom who usually follows Dad’s lead because her part is too underwritten to do anything individually. Eep (Emma Stone, in every other film at the moment) is the rebellious teen daughter tired of being locked up at home and yearning to be free. Thunk (Clark Duke, a.k.a. Clark from The Office) is the annoying brother who’s a dumber carbon-copy of his dad. Gran (good ol’ Cloris Leachman) is the stereotypical mother-in-law who won’t go away. And there’s baby Sandy, who’s feral enough to count as the family pet. They hide together; they bunk together; they form a Family Kill Circle together against anything threatening or “new”.
Enter two x-factors that ruin everything. Variable number one: a chance introduction to a guy named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) who’s just a guy, not a caveman like them. He knows things, has ideas, wanders the land, and looks forward to tomorrow. He’s the ultimate anti-Crood, and therefore a winner in Eep’s eyes. Variable number two: tectonic plates begein shifting, destroying their homeland, crushing their cave, and forcing the Croods to travel into new lands and new dangers.
The slapstick is surprisingly lively, particularly the scene in which Guy introduces everyone to a strange thing called “fire”. The animals are a bizarre assortment of fantasy hybrids, with parts swapped, distorted, mismatched, or glued onto other incongruous parts. (The angriest recurring nemesis is a Chibi-head sabretooth that I’m sure will be available as a lovable plush toy.) The ever-changing environments are luscious and clearly took forever to animate. Most importantly: though the family are stock types, they’re clearly a tightly knit unit despite their differences, and fun to watch interact, even when they’re damaging or gnawing on each other.
The Croods is co-directed by Chris Sanders (he of the above-average Lilo and Stitch and the A-plus-plus-plus How to Train Your Dragon) and Kirk DeMicco (thankfully surpassing his last film, Space Chimps). They also share writing credit with a familiar chap named John Cleese, whose name is oddly omitted from the IMDb credits, possibly because he was gone from the project early in the process. All things considered, their efforts have arguably resulted in the best Nicolas Cage film since 2006’s World Trade Center.
For me, the broader themes resonated more than the comedy did. The most nefarious antagonist in the film isn’t a wild beast, but the Crood family motto of “Never not be afraid!” I can sympathize with a father who doesn’t want to see his offspring chewed up and spit out by savage opponents, as well as his frustration when his children show signs of surpassing him, even fending for themselves.
When Grug naturally learns his lesson at the end, I was reminded of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season-six finale, in which Buffy realizes that she shouldn’t spend the rest of her life playing bodyguard to her defenseless kid sister Dawn, changes her approach to sisterhood, and promises a generous gift: “I don’t want to protect you from the world. I want to show it to you.” Much of the world may be unsafe and ugly, but we’ll never experience the best, brightest, most wondrously crafted parts while we’re cowering in underground darkness.
And to answer the burning question that MCC is always happy to verify: yes, there is indeed a scene after the end credits. For those who fled the theater prematurely and really want to know without seeing it a second time…
[insert space for courtesy mild spoiler alert in case anyone needs to abandon ship]
…it’s a snippet of tuneful trumpeting by a trio of happy mammoth-mice. And now you know the rest of the story.