So here it is. Richard Bensam on The Croods:
You have no idea how long the past five days were. Well, unless you own a calendar, in which case you could make an informed guess. But it wasn't until today that I finally saw the film and can resume reading this blog without feeling guilty as if I was reading it under false pretenses.
To add to your observations [...], there were some things that surprised me even after all the advance coverage. For one thing, the characters were all better actors than I was expecting, in the animation sense of the word. So much of the narrative was sold through their utterly convincing facial expressions. We've never seen this much subtlety of performance in a computer animated film before. Forget the Uncanny Valley; the whole cast jumps over it and reaches the other side with no problem.
Another thing I wasn't expecting was how strongly the film endorses learning and exploration and scientific inquiry. It's not the slightest bit equivocal on that point: the film says, our world can and must be understood, survival depends on learning about the world and how it works and inventing ways of coping with it. It would have been so easy for a dumber film to give Guy a comeuppance, to have him be a smartass who "learns the error of his ways" and comes to follow the alpha male in a cautionary tale about not getting arrogant. There are loads of films like that, and in other hands this might have been one of them. But it isn't. Guy is not the stupid person's idea of what a smart person is like. If anything, he's the smart person's idea of what he or she wants to be like. He's not condescending, he's full of excitement and just wants to share these amazing things in his head with other people.
Also, while Guy has been thinking about this stuff longer so he's ahead of the others, his conception of the world is flawed too (like his disappointment when they fail to reach the sun) and the others aren't far behind him once they've seen his example. It's not some elitist story about a know-it-all genius surrounded by morons. All of them have the potential to learn and be smarter if they're willing to try. I'm cool with kids getting that message.
Damn you, Richard Bensam. You one-upped me on my own turf. I feel like the Grug to your Guy. That said, I certainly do appreciate the review. Thank-you for sharing it!
Related: Richard Bensam on the 'Special Event' Poster