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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Croods

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Animated characters appear in the movie "The Croods."
"The Flintstones" on steroids may best describe "The Croods" (Fox). Echoing the premise of the popular 1960s TV series, this 3-D animated comedy follows the rollicking adventures of another "modern Stone Age family."

Written and directed by Chris Sanders ("How to Train Your Dragon") and Kirk DeMicco ("Space Chimps"), "The Croods" is a refreshing change of pace for Hollywood family fare. Its punning title notwithstanding, the film's humor is not at all crude—there's not a potty joke within sight (or smell).

Instead, we have a fast-paced, good-humored and beautifully rendered romp that provides fun for moviegoers of just about any age. Only frightening interludes that might overwhelm the littlest viewers pose any concern for parents.

Climate change is in the air, and that fills Crood family patriarch Grug (voice of Nicolas Cage) with dread. Grug is overprotective of his loving wife, Ugga (voice of Catherine Keener), and of their three kids: Eep (voice of Emma Stone), a rebellious teen; Thunk (voice of Clark Duke), an outsized dimwit; and rambunctious toddler Sandy, who growls rather than speaks.

Throw in Grug's sassy mother-in-law, Gran (voice of Cloris Leachman), with whom he continually feuds, and you have a recipe for dysfunction and chaos.

Every day at sunset, Grug gathers his tribe and together they retreat to the safety of a dark cave. Thanks to him, the Croods are the only family which has survived the terrors of the wild.

"Darkness brings death," Grug teaches his brood. "Fear keeps us alive. Never not be afraid. Curiosity kills."

But inquisitiveness gets the better of Eep, who wanders off one night, intrigued by a flickering light in the distance. It leads her to a stranger named Guy (voice of Ryan Reynolds). Guy is an orphan who has survived through sheer resourcefulness -- and the discovery of fire.

Eep is enchanted by the hunky lad. (Who knew Neanderthals had abs of steel?) But Guy predicts doom and gloom unless the Croods follow his lead to a safe haven he calls "Tomorrow." Grug is suspicious, and resents relinquishing his role as guardian.

When the earth quakes and volcanoes erupt, the Croods have no choice but to join Guy on the ultimate road trip toward their destiny. Awash in psychedelic colors, the many otherworldly landscapes they encounter are reminiscent of James Cameron's "Avatar."

Whether intentional or not, "The Croods" carries an intriguing Christian subtext. The characters of the title live in fear in the dark. Guy arrives and persuades them to "live in the light" and "follow the sun." Doing so will lead to a kind of salvation as well as a renewal of the bonds of family and friendship.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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