Two very different films came out this week, the cave-family comedy The Croods (by Dreamworks Animation) and the Tina Fey/Paul Rudd rom-com Admission. I review both of them below for content, artistry, and Gospel parallels.
THE CROODS REVIEW (GRADE: A-)
This latest offering from Dreamworks Animation finds a family of cave-people on the run from what is implied to be continental drift (strangely, they never run into the Ice Age gang). Along the way they take a more evolved human as their prisoner (then as their guide). A lifetime of merely surviving starts to give way to really living. It's a simple premise, but it works thanks to truly stunning animation, inventive creature design, a better-than-necessary musical score by Alan Silvestri, a screenplay that deftly balances humor with pathos, and excellent performances by its voice cast, including Nicholas Cage (World Trade Center), Emma Stone (The Help, The Amazing Spider-Man), and Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern). What's more, the story is genuinely unpredictable. The Croods, with its loads of laughs and emphasis on family, is certain to delight audiences of all ages.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: The Croods is rated PG. It has plentiful slapstick violence and the characters are all wearing loincloths of some sort.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: “Successful…families are established and maintained on principles of…forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities“ (The Family- A Proclamation to the World). Intelligence, strength, and love eliminate fear and help us to live up to our full potential (1 Timothy 1:7). Ingenuity will solve more problems than brute strength (Alma 43:19-21).
Fey is in fine form here comedically, but Rudd's character isn't as interesting, though he does well with what he's given to work with. Their romance is actually a subplot, with Fey's coming to terms with her past (and what that means for her future) getting the central focus. Lily Tomlin has fun as Fey's uber-feminist mother. The film runs too long for its own good, it can't quite seem to settle on a tone, and the flippant separation of sex from commitment is bothersome, though gratefully nothing graphic is shown onscreen. On the other hand, the movie gives us a touching portrait of a woman's awakening motherhood, portrays the importance of taking accountability for one's choices, and has plenty of laughs.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Admission is rated PG-13. It has one f-word and several moderate profanities. It is implied that a couple has been living together. Sex is implied twice, once with a man and woman kissing, then shown in bed together afterward (he's asleep, she's awake thinking) and another time the woman starts kissing the man while unbuttoning his shirt, then the scene jumps to them getting dressed again. A man is seen leaving a woman's house. He explains to an observer that he “slept on the couch,” then adds “So did she. We didn't make it to the bedroom.” There are frank discussions about out-of-wedlock pregnancy and the heartache caused.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Seek learning and wisdom by immersing yourself in good books (D&C 109:7; D&C 88:118). Sometimes good people break the law of chastity out of ignorance to God's commandments; He is merciful, in the eternal sense, to those who don't have His law (Mosiah 3:11-12; Luke 12:48), even if the unavoidable natural consequences are still heartbreaking. All secrets come to light sooner or later (Matthew 10:26).