The Invention of Leftovers
by Meg Van Cleve
Food has to be important to a film set in the Stone Age. The Croods is a tale of adolescent groaning pains and family perseverance, but it revolves around the primal fear of getting enough food without being food for something else. The opening scene shows the Crood family, led by father and patriarch Grug, embarking on a routine hunting mission amidst desolate surroundings. This is directly after a monologue by Eep, the protagonist and Grug’s oldest daughter, explaining the current and extremely cyclical reality of her family. As the only survivors in their neighborhood the Croods spend most of their time barricaded in a cave as a safety precaution. Grug only lets them outside to hunt, and as we see from this early scene pickings are scarce and predators are plenty.
The plot thickens when Eep meets Guy, a radical lone wolf who is innovative and entrepreneurial. Eep is drawn to Guy’s fire, a substance she has never seen and a tool which Guy later uses to save Eep’s family when they are forced out of their cave. Grug resents Guy’s new ideas and inventions, claiming that sticking to tradition is safest, but Eep and the rest of the family disagree. Guy’s outside-the-box thinking has secured them a new way of life, one they won’t give up for a repetitive life in a dark cave. The Crood’s newfound access to excess food, or “leftovers” as Guy calls them, causes immense personal, social, and geographic growth and propels the entire plot of the movie. With fire in the picture, The Croods can cook, scare predators, and keep warm while traveling place to place in confidence. Despite much stubbornness and confusion, Grug comes around to Guy’s inventive style and even becomes inventive himself. The Crood family thrives as they learn to work as a unit and adopt new ideas, all while roaming their prehistoric world. Food is freedom, and The Croods shows us how important it is to keep learning, keep community, and keep eating.
Chris Sanders & Kirk DeMicco. (2013). The Croods. DreamWorks Animation.