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DreamWorks Animation, ASSOCIATED PRESS
This film publicity image released by DreamWorks Animation shows, from left, Belt the sloth, voiced by Chris Sanders, Guy, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Eep, voiced by Emma Stone, Ugga, voiced by Catherine Keener, holding Sandy, voiced by Randy Thom, Thunk, voiced by Clark Duke, Gran, voiced by Cloris Leachman, in a scene from "The Croods." (AP Photo/DreamWorks Animation)

DreamWorks’ new movie, “The Croods,” proves that life ain’t easy for your basic cave-family.

Things are so tough that good old Grug, patriarch of the last surviving family in the region, finds himself more devoted than ever to never taking chances, adopting nothing new, barricading his brood in the cave each and every night and always being fearful. And why wouldn’t he, after seeing all of his neighbors dispatched by natural disasters, stomped on by clueless creatures or served up as a great entrée for prowling carnivores?

Grug, voiced by Nicolas Cage, along with wife, Ugga, who sounds a lot like Catherine Keener, preside over three kids and Grug’s ancient mother-in-law, Gran, voiced by Cloris Leachman. All is well, considering the innumerable lurking dangers.

The family gathers each evening for the family story that reinforces that any deviation from the rules results in instant death. There’s a budding problem, however, and it comes in the form of daughter Eep, given verbal spunk by Emma Stone. Eep wants adventure, things that are new, and she causes no end of grief and worry for Grug.

One night, when sneaking out of the cave, she follows an irresistible light that leads to a mysterious boy named Guy, who seems to control a small part of the sun. For the first time, Eep witnesses controlled fire. It’s a game-changer.

Eep listens to the boy’s tale of earthquakes, eruptions and impending doom for all who don’t move forward and change because the earth is literally shifting behind him as he heads for a distant mountain. Of course, Grug refuses to leave the safety of his cave until, just as Guy foretold, the earth collapses around him.

Eep and the rest of the crew are about to get all the adventure they can handle as we watch this family bond and grow as they fight to survive. Even Grug and his son, Thunk, begin to think and have ideas. This is prehistoric progress.

The kids, of all ages, will love some of the cute little creatures we’re introduced to, including a fanciful saber-tooth tiger, a little monkey-like creature and an indefinable little beast, Douglas, who fetches like a dog.

It’s a cute story that delivers excitement, wonderful settings, endearing characters, and some welcome messages about family and friendship. “The Croods” co-director, Chris Sanders, also gave us “How to Train Your Dragon,” which I loved. This isn’t quite as good, but it's close.

What can I say? I really enjoyed “The Croods” and it’s not just for the kids. Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa will like this one, too. I’m giving this PG-rated film 3 stars.