DreamWorks' The Croods, David Gordon Green's Prince Avalanche, and more
Note: I've been fortunate to attend the Berlin Film Festival (or "Berlinale") as a guest of the Goethe Institut and the German government. The following are brief thoughts on a few of the films in exhibition. The opinions, as always, are my own. You can find more of my capsule reviews from the festival here and here.
Perhaps the most peculiar entrant in competition this year was DreamWorks Animation's The Croods—hardly your typical example of a festival film. Featuring vocal performances by Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, and Ryan Reynolds, the animated family film is essentially a homo-sapiens-centric Ice Age with higher production values. (In addition to the broad similarities, this movie's environmentally apocalyptic plot resembles that of the second Ice Age installment, and its score carries echoes of its Paleolithic cousin.) Grug (Cage) is the pater familias of a tiny Neanderthal clan that huddles in its cave, terrified of the mortal threats surrounding them on all sides. (Family motto: "Never not be afraid.") But when plucky (and hearteningly stocky) daughter Eep (Stone) meets a more inventive, Cro-Magnon-esque neighbor (Reynolds), he provides the appropriate lessons in optimism and embracing the unknown. The animation is first-rate, with moments of genuine visual imagination, and the story, while unremarkable, is entirely adequate. Kids—of whom there were, of course, few in evidence at the festival—will almost certainly enjoy it.