best animated feature film nomination

The Croods (2013) Review | Jamie Daily

The Croods (2013)
86th Academy Awards 2014
3/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film (Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco, Kristine Belson).
Watched August 28, 2014.

If I could suggest one thing when viewing “The Croods,” it would be to not read too much into the plot and characters and just enjoy the story for what it is.  A pre-historic cave family has their home destroyed and must set out across the unknown in search of safety and a new cave.  With the help of a slightly unwanted stranger, they discover what it is to embrace change and to face adversity together as a family, even if your family is stupid.

That synopsis might not sound too bad until you get into the grit of things.  Grug (Nicolas Cage) is the father, and he is fiercely opposed to any kind of change or outside thinking.  When his daughter Eep (Emma Stone) tests the limits and then meets an outsider named Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who is also an inventor, he does what any typical dad would do and tries to lock her in the cave.  When their home gets destroyed, everything changes and Grug reluctantly follows Guy and Eep, along with his wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), crazy Gran (Cloris Leachman), son Thunk (Clark Duke), and little one Sandy (Randy Thorn) across the unknown.  They face perilous adventures with wacky creatures and explore lands full of vivid colors.  Grug is obstinate the entire way and refuses to accept a new way of thinking.

This is where things could get weird.  The parent is refusing to see another point of view and won’t listen to his teenager.  On the other hand, the teenager thinks she knows best and is drooling over a boy.  The boy seems like the most level headed character, even though he has a sloth for a belt and he invents things like fire.  He is all about progress and moving forward and sees little value in tradition.  The dad is stuck in his ways and resists change to a fault.  He apparently doesn’t use his brain, according to the film.  The black and white representations of opposing sides of society could be that, or just a typical plot point in a children’s film.  You make the judgement call.

The story telling is predictable, albeit entertaining and funny.  There are some basic plot points, although surprisingly both parents last at least the majority of the film, whereas most films for kids feature a dead parent.  The kids have to go through some great emotional turmoil to make them understand the value of family, even when they’re being stupid, and nature continues to beat the cave people into submission.

I feel like this review came off more negative than I intended.  Like I said, the colors are fabulous, the film is entertaining and funny, and I enjoyed the animation.  I don’t know how quickly I would watch the film again because, let’s face it, it’s no Shrek, but it wasn’t the worst film of 2013, that’s for sure.

If none of the things I mentioned above bother you, and especially if you have kids, then I would recommend that you see “The Croods!”

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The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

The Pirates!  Band of Misfits (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
1/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film (Peter Lord).
Watched March 14, 2013.

 

The Pirates! Band of Misfits is like a bad Saturday cartoon, only with much better animation.

 

I couldn’t sit still through the film and kept my eye on the clock, which is worse than watching water boil because the film was an hour and a half long.  When your favourite part of the film is the end credits, there is something significantly wrong with the story.

 

The Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Jackman) has been trying for years to win the Pirate of the Year award, and has lost every time.  It’s not hard to see why when his competitors fly in on waves of booty with excessive Pirate pizzaz.  Although his crew of misfits–albinos and “surprisingly curvaceous” pirates among them–stand behind him wholeheartedly, their luck never seems to come, until they ironically discover Charles Darwin out at sea.  He excitedly points out that their parrot is actually an “extinct” Dodo bird and talks them into going to London to win an award for scientific discovery.  Although Queen Victoria is a well known pirate hater, The Pirate Captain can’t see reason and thus makes the trip to London, crew in tow.  All is well and good, with good laughs and all, until around this portion of the film, where everything seems to get confused and I got lost among the plot points that began sprouting out of nowhere.

 

The plot kept going and going–circling back in on itself and exploring areas that had already been revealed and discussed.  The bad guy keeps resurfacing, the good guy somehow always fails miserably until the opportune moment, and you’re never quite sure how many movies you are watching–be it one or seven.  By the end of this film, I wanted to rip my eyeballs out… or run around the block a couple times to get my impatience out.  While the claymation was great, the redeeming qualities were few and the film as a whole was absolutely terrible.  Despite all of this, I ended up watching almost the entire end credit sequence because it tied all of the plot lines together in minute shorts that were more funny than the rest of the movie put together.

 

There were hilarious supporting characters voiced by even more amazing actors.  The Aardmans have such an incredible reputation for producing some amazing claymation stop-animation films with hilarious stories and wonderful charters, but unfortunately I found much to be desired in this film and am not surprised that the film fell short of an Academy win.

 

Personally, I would not recommend this film.  However, your kids might like it, and I have read several reviews in which adults quite enjoyed the film as well.  Perhaps my patience with meandering stories has been frayed lately, but I doubt I will ever watch The Pirates! Band of Misfits again.