Invention of the Hug

poster for "The Croods"

The Crood’s live strongly by their family motto ” New is always bad.  Never not be afraid.” Exactly as it sounds, they never surrender to curiosity, or stray from routine. All but Eep (voiced by Emma Stone) believe these precautions are necessary for survival. Emma Stone’s voice is well suited for Eep, the oldest child, who hates the rules, the cave, and her family.  She desires exploration of new things and is abnormally strong. Emphasis on strong, because this type of strength is not often seen in animated female characters. Her typical love-hate relationship with her father (Nicholas Cage) provides the emotional core of this story.

Eep: Dad, you have to stop worrying about us.

Grug: But it’s my job to worry! It’s my job to follow our traditions.

Eep: Those traditions don’t work out here.

Grug: They’ve been keeping us alive.

Eep: That was not LIVING! It was “Not Dying”! There’s a difference.

After their cave is destroyed in a rockslide, the Crood family ventures into strange and uniquely visualized territory in search of a new home. Head of the family, Grug (Cage) deals with internal conflicts when he encounters an imaginative nomad named Guy who is the polar-opposite to his “change-fearing” character.  Guy introduces them to fire and shoes, and the concept of using your brain to express an idea.

Where this film really makes an impression, is that instead of Eep and Grug meeting in the middle, Grug realizes that he has to accept the new world and find a way to be useful in it.  Grug’s old way of conservative living becomes obsolete by the end of the movie, and he’s forced to embrace a new way of life. His internal struggle goes through several stages: patriarchy to burdensome to abandonment and finally rebuilding through acceptance and adaptation.

The journey to their new home helps the Croods overcome their fear of the world that exists beyond their cave.  They discover an imaginative and colorful environment of prehistoric hybrid creatures and plants. The viewer is able to see them evolve emotionally which is very heartfelt. Grug invents the hug (rhymes with his name) exclusively for his daughter Eep, as a way to express his affection. The Croods offers food for thought about relationships, change, and perspective on why the challenge of family is worth the struggle. Although I do not have a favorite part, I enjoyed the movie’s faux explanations for specific inventions and conventions, such as “Grug’s hug” and belts.

cartoon characters from The Croods

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