Of the tidal wave of animated films that are on the horizon (and trust us, there are a bunch), DreamWorks Animation's "The Croods" is one that is worth getting very excited about. Originally a stop-motion movie from "Wallace and Gromit" creators Aardman (when the studio still had a deal with DreamWorks), the movie (about a family of Neanderthals) is now in the capable hands of director Chris Sanders, who directed "Lilo & Stitch" for Disney Feature Animation before being kicked out of the Magic Kingdom when John Lasseter took over control of Disney's animated slate after Pixar was absorbed by the studio. The first photos from the spring release have emerged courtesy of Entertainment Weekly and, honestly, it looks like this stone age family is going to totally rock (sorry).
The main photo showcases the family – patriarch Grug (Nicolas Cage); precocious teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone); Ugga (Catherine Keener), Grug's devoted wife and mother to the kids; Sandy the baby (nuff said); Gran (Cloris Leachman); and awkward little brother, Thunk (Clark Duke). The sidebars showcase the hunky Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a slightly more evolved human being, who dazzles the family with his ability to start fire and wear attractive footwear. (We also love his weird, sloth-like creature.) When the family comes across Guy they are impressed by his heightened abilities and take him prisoner to travel with them. It goes without saying that Eep is attracted to the rugged young dude.
"This is the world's first family road trip," co-director Kirk DiMicco (who directed 2008's regrettable, European-financed "Space Chimps") described the movie to EW. Sanders elaborated: "Our cavemen are very gifted. They can run 40 miles an hour, can throw a rock many many miles. Physically they’re very capable, but mentally we have a lot of beginner minds."
While the images presented here are clearly very early and don't represent what we will come to expect from "The Croods," we're still marginally impressed. The photo of the whole family, walking along a formerly flooded sea floor, is pretty stunning, and we like the design flourishes for Guy, particularly those cat paw boots (which are 100% Chris Sanders). Also, the piece describes some of the crazy creatures they will encounter – things like "piranhakeets (picture pink flocks of piranhas with parakeet wings) and rainbow-hued sabertooth tigers" – which is where Sanders' unparalleled sense of design and character will really come through.
This will be Sanders' second film for DreamWorks Animation after the wonderful Oscar-nominated "How to Train Your Dragon," and while we wish the Sanders touch was more immediately evident (like characters that look like they could just as easily be balloon animals), you have to consider how long the project has been around and how many developers have been a part of it. We think that his input will be more clearly visible as we start seeing trailers and more images, ahead of its spring 2013 release.
"The Croods" opens nationwide (and in 3D, no less) on March 22nd. It will be the first film distributed under DreamWorks Animation's new arrangement with Fox.