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The Croods are a prehistoric family of six living in a dark cave, only coming out when they need food. The father, Grug, is extremely cautious and protective, knowing how dangerous their environment can be. He constantly urges them to “never not be afraid” and to stay away from anything new, since there is danger in the unknown. The family willingly follows his rules, with the exception of his eldest daughter, Eep. She hates the boring, dark cave that they live in, and constantly seeks out adventure and light. One night, when the rest of her family is sleeping, she sees a light flicker through the cave, coming from an unknown source outside. Her curiosity gets the better of her, and she sneaks out of the cave to pursue it. She meets a strange boy, Guy, and his pet sloth, Belt. Guy has made a fire, something that she has never seen before. Her first instinct is to attack the danger, but his fire intrigues her. Guy tells her he thinks that the world is coming to an end, since he has seen the earth changing, and causing destruction. He asks her to come with him, since he believes the destruction will be coming to where they are. She decides to go back to her family’s cave instead, where she finds her whole family outside, worried, and that her father is furious with her for leaving. Then, an earthquake destroys their cave home, and the family ends up cast into unknown territory. Grug immediately wants to find a new cave for protection. In this new land, there are new creatures that the Croods are unfamiliar with. They eventually discover they are in danger from carnivorous birds about to descend on them when Eep blows a horn, calling for Guy. Creating a fire to save them all from the birds’ attack, the family decides to keep Guy with them, against his will, for protection. Guy tells them of a land he calls Tomorrow, and they embark on a journey to find safety. Grug, however, is distrusting of the newcomer, and becomes increasingly more frustrated as his family embraces Guy’s and his new ideas for survival over Grug’s leadership.
Even though this story takes place in prehistoric times, the issues it deals with remain the same through the ages. Families tend to work the same no matter where (or when) they come from. Parents try to take care of their children, making decisions that will benefit the family unit. They tend to function via traditions, using methods of survival that have proven efficient in the past. New ideas are often scorned at first, simply because we know that the old ways have always worked, and we don’t know if the new ideas will make matters better or actually make them worse. However, as our environment changes, we need to be willing to change as well. Fear of the unknown can often cause people to make the wrong decisions, even if those decisions are made with the right reasons at heart. Leadership is best when it is shared amongst the family, rather than having one person, with only one point of view, make all of the decisions. Watching the Croods change their survival tactics as the environment changes is a good way to introduce the theory of evolution to a child, and/or discuss how other animals may make changes to adapt to their changing environments.
This story also points out that there are other things aside from pure survival that are important. As Eep points out, there is a distinct difference between living and simply not dying. People need the joys and adventures that life can bring in order to enjoy life and be inspired to make things even better for themselves and their families. One of the greatest joys in life is that of loving family and friends. Even though we may forget to tell the important people in our lives that we love them during the trials and tribulations of life, we should always hold on to that love tightly.
(If you have additional ideas on how this film can be used for educational purposes, please let us know in the comments below.)
Eep: With every sun comes a new day. A new beginning. A hope that things will be better today than they were yesterday. But not for me. My name is Eep. And this is my family, the Croods. If you weren’t clued in already by the animal skins and sloping foreheads, we’re cavemen. Most days we spend in our cave, in the dark. Night after night, day after day. Yep, home sweet home. When we did go out, we struggled to find food in a harsh and hostile world. And I struggled to survive my family. We were the last ones around. There used to be neighbors. Uh, the Gorts, smashed by a mammoth. The Horks, swallowed by a sand snake. The Erfs, mosquito bite. Throgs, common cold. And the Croods, that’s us. The Croods made it, because of my dad. He was strong, and he followed the rules. The ones painted on the cave walls. Anything new is bad. Curiosity is bad. Going out at night is bad. Basically, anything fun is bad. Welcome to my world! But this is a story about how all that changed in an instant. Because what we didn’t know was that our world was about to come to an end. And there were no rules on our cave walls to prepare us for that.
Eep: [talking about Guy] I thought he was a warthog, but then he turned into a boy.
Gran: Strange, it’s usually the reverse.
Guy: [Referring to Belt] Don’t eat him! He will cut you! He’s a pet! My pet!
Gran: What’s a “pet”?
Guy: It’s an animal you don’t eat.
Gran: Ha! We call those “children”.
Guy: Once upon a time, there was a beautiful tiger. She lived in a cave with the rest of her family. Her father and mother told her: “You may go anywhere you want, but never go near the cliff, for you could fall.”
Grug: And fall. Good story.
Guy: But when no one was looking, she go near the cliff, for the closer she came to the edge, the more could she hear, the more could she see, the more she could feel. Finally, she stood at the very edge. She saw a light. She leaned out to touch it… and she slipped.
Grug: And she fell.
Guy: And she flew.
Thunk: Where did she fly?
Guy: A place with more suns in the sky than you can count.
Thunk: It would be so bright!
Guy: A place not like today, or yesterday. A place where things are better.
Grug: Tomorrow isn’t a place. It’s-it’s-it… Ugh! You can’t see it!
Guy: Oh, yes, yes it is. I’ve seen it. That’s where I’m going.
Eep: That wasn’t living – that was just not dying. There’s a difference!
Grug: What is this stuff that saves you from my punches?
Grug: I have to get back to them.
Guy: Stop struggling!
Guy: Grug, STOP! No one gets out of this. Believe me… I know.
Guy: Family. Yeah.
Guy: I was little when it happened. Last thing my parents told me was: “Don’t hide. Live. Follow the sun. You’ll make it to Tomorrow.”
Grug: You followed the light. My daughter is a lot like you.
Guy: No. She’s like you. She loves you, but always forgets to say it. Just like you forget to tell her.