Commenter Bob and I have this little game going where we take turns guessing the release dates of the new Croods trailers. So far, neither of us has ever been right. EVER. Our most recent guess for a new trailer was last Wednesday, coinciding with the release of DreamWorks' Rise of the Guardians. Surprise, surprise. We were wrong again!
Turns out, DreamWorks DID debut some new footage from The Croods before ROTG. It's just that it was only a couple of seconds long, and tacked on to the end of the preexisting trailer.
NOTE: In a perfect world, I'd be embedding the new footage here. Unfortunately, it has yet to appear online. Until it does, you'll have to make do with my hazy recollection:
The Croods happen upon a small, furry monkey sitting on a rock in the forest. Grug steps forward, bravely volunteering to handle this seemingly insignificant simian roadblock. Thunk, ever the adoring son, cheers him on. SMASH CUT TO: Grug getting punched in the face again and again by the small, furry monkey. While the rest of the Croods stand there shocked and horrified, Gran steps forward and swats her son-in-law with her cane. As the monkey continues to pummel the poor, punch-drunk patriarch, Gran smiles and says something to the effect of, "I think I'm going to like this!"
It's a minor variation on a classic comedy bit, undoubtedly added to get a quick laugh at the end of an otherwise epic and awe-inspiring trailer. Is it unnecessary? Yes. Is it out of place? Fer sure. Did I hate it? Nope, not at all. In fact, I think it works on a few levels.
Seeing a large, strapping male getting beaten by a small, furry monkey is not only silliness personified, it underlines the ongoing battle between Grug's overprotective personality and the unpredictability of the outside world. As an added bonus, this new scene also tells us a heckuva lot about Gran!
I don't want cartoons to look or feel like real life. That's what reality and Mike Leigh films are for. Every time a new animated feature tries to woo me with its 'realistic' hair or fur or water, it makes my inner-animated-child cry large, arching streams of bulbous, blue tears. This new scene proudly proclaims The Croods to be a capital-C Cartoon. Sure, the sudden, last-minute switch in tone (from epic to slap-stick) felt a little wonky at first, but I kinda like it now. It reminds of those classic cartoon fade-outs where the villain is shown bouncing off into the sunset, getting repeatedly stung by bees or bit by a crocodile or what-have-you. After a lifetime of watching cartoons, I've gotta cop to a DNA-level love of these moments.
The gags themselves are nothing new, I'll grant you that. The big guy who underestimates the little guy and the third party taking cheap shots during a fist fight are comic tropes that date back to the silent film days. Heck, Charlie Chaplin used 'em both in nearly every short he did for Essanay. But there's a reason a genius like Chaplin recycled these gags. Because audiences ADORE them. I mean, who doesn't get a kick out of a joke that blends anti-authoritarian sentiment with a dash of David vs. Goliath? Giants and dictators, that's who!
4. The All-Important Audience Attraction Angle:
Everyone at DreamWorks should be delighted. THE NEW SCENE WORKED. I saw the trailer with my gal, Mishka, and five of our nieces and nephews at an early evening showing of The Rise of the Guardians. The new scene got a HUGE laugh from the audience. Two, in fact! While the kids were going nuts watching Grug get walloped, the adults were laughing loudly at Gran's merciless response. This can only bode well for the film's March 22 release.
So, Bob -- you wanna start using our sorry psychic gifts to guess grosses?