This piece was originally published by Margot Magowan on her blog, Reel Girl.
My three daughters, my niece, my sister, and I LOVED The Croods.
From beginning to end, this movie is fantastic. The characters are great and the animation is gorgeous. The Croods is the best ensemble animated movie since The Incredibles, and like that classic, The Croods is about a family that is populated with strong female characters.
The Croods is narrated by a female. That is a true rarity in movies made for children. Who tells the story is hugely important and leaving females out of this role has all kind of bad effects. Everyone needs to be able to write her own story.
Not only is Eep the narrator, but, and this is truly amazing, she is not a Minority Feisty! Her family is comprised of a mom, a granny, a baby sister, and then her father and brother.
That’s right, four females to two males! This gender ratio is almost unheard of in mainstream movies for children.
There’s another male main character who comes on the scene: Guy. But even with this addition, the gender ratio still tips in female favor.
There are various animals and magical creatures, but their parts are small, and the genders mixed, so I feel confident we don’t have to deal with the Minority Feisty issue at all in this movie.
Speaking of creatures, in the last scene of the movie, Eep is shown not “riding bitch.” She is on a flying creature, in front, with Guy behind her.
I do have a couple complaints. Eep’s outfit sucked. While the clothing of all the other characters covered them to their knees or more, Eep’s dress barely skimmed her ass. There were actual panty shots. For that, I am deducting one H.
Aside from Eep’s outfit, her look is great. She is a cavewoman and she looks it, with big arms, muscular legs, and bushy hair. Her armpits, shown in the movies first shot, are conspicuously hairless, an issue that could’ve been easily solved by giving her more clothing coverage, but whatever.
Eep refers to herself as a “caveman” and that term is used to describe her family a few times in the movie. At least that gendered word seemed really out of place, I hope not only to me. With all the ways this movie defied gender stereotypes, couldn’t they change that word to cavepeople?
Much of the movie is battle for leadership between the dad and Guy. I admit, I was pretty nervous when Guy came on the scene. As with Hotel Transylvania, I was concerned the story would morph from a father-daughter to father-son theme. Though in some places, it teetered, the movie stayed faithful to keeping Eep and her dad the central focus.
I liked the addition of Guy. Clearly, he admires Eep for her strength and vision. He is enamored of her without coming off as a wimp, a loser, or relinquishing his own attractiveness. I liked that Eep is shown as powerful and also in love. Defying another limiting gender stereotype for females in the fantasy world, being strong doesn’t mean Eep has to end up alone.
I think the Granny made a sexist comment, calling the dad and the brother “girls” at one point as an insult, but that seems so out of character and incongruent with the movie that I’m hoping I’m wrong.
The Croods is a movie about the strength and importance of family. Of course, “family values” is a common theme in children’s media, but too often, to communicate this bond, female ambition is stereotyped and sacrificed. Most recently, we saw this in the infinitely sexist Escape From Planet Earth which made the point with a “good” stay-at-home mom versus a wicked, bitter, delusional, and lonely working woman.
The Croods did something different, showing the value of family by illustrating that each member’s role and identity is dynamic and changing. People need to grow. Pigeonholing identities gives only the illusion of strength.
One final factor that I adored about the movie is how it showed the power of the narrative and the importance of a female protagonist. The father and Guy both told stories to the family about a female character who was obviously based on Eep. These stories mirrored the thematic basis and structure of the movie. Through stories, real life heroes are born. Don’t miss this movie! Reel Girl rates “The Croods” ***HH***
Margot Magowan is a writer and commentator. Her articles on politics and culture have been in Salon, Glamour, the San Jose Mercury News, and numerous other newspapers and online sites. She lives with her husband and their three daughters in San Francisco.
You know what else could have solved the armpit hair thing? Actually giving her armpit hair. I think that would have been even better. Oh well! I look forward to seeing this! 😀
This is an awesome review but why was it emboldened so much? The original review on Reel Girl didn’t seem to be so formatted and I personally found it much easier to read that way.
‘she has no armpit hair’ was the first thing I could think when she stretched like that on the rock. It looked so totally out of place in this totally ‘crood’ family in a totally ‘crude’ way. What a stupid reference to American beauty ideals.
And then we get to look at her bum and under her miniskirt from below in a shot that would not have been permissible if it had not been a cartoon character. And there we see that she is clearly wearing undies. Phew! Underwear that clings to the body like that was invented less than 100 years ago.
What makes a hero a hero is the things they DO. Not their dream, not their vision, not their narrative, they have to ACTIVELY contribute to the story. A character with little active contribution to the story is just a narrator, not a heroine.
To be honest I was bitterly disappointed with this movie because the trailer had let me to expect Eep to be a heroine who actively leads her own story. But no, the most important active role she took was sneaking out at night and meeting Guy. Afterwards she spent most of the movie making googly eyes at him while he come up with ideas to save everyone.
Now, I don’t think falling in love would make Eep a weaker character. But she could have worked TOGETHER with Guy as EQUALS. She made no contribution of any of her own ideas, and for the most part, just listened to Guy. Whenever the family is facing danger/crisis, it’s always Guy or Dad that eventually saves the day.
The Croods also doesn’t pass the Bechel Test. Although the Mother, the Grandmother, and Eep all seem to be interesting characters on their own. They have never spoken to each other. Whenever Eep have a fight with Grub, the mother is always shown counseling her husband. There isn’t even a scene where she SPEAKS to her upset daughter, even though it would make perfect sense for her to give her daughter a word of comfort.
Overall, I think things like armpit hair and caveMEN are just minor details. The most important problem is that the females are not given active role in storytelling.