A cave family called the Croods survives due to the overprotective nature of their stubborn, stern patriarch, father, Grug. The only one who questions the family's sheltered life is his teenaged daughter Eep who frequently disobeys her father's orders out of curiosity, which he finds dangerous. Grug and Eep, along with her mother and his wife Ugga, her grandmother Gran, and her younger brother and sister Thunk and Sandy face time sheltered in their cave home.
Eep sneaks out when she sees what she discovers to be a torch of fire and she encounters an inventive modern human boy named Guy and his pet sloth Belt. He warns her of an impending apocalypse and offers to take her with him, but concerned for her family, Eep stays, getting a shell horn from him to blow in case she needs his help. Reuniting with her frantic father, she tries to tell her family what Guy told her, but fearing things that are "different" and "new" Grug destroys her horn.
A massive earthquake then destroys their home, and to avoid the earlier carnivore, they descend down into a tropical forest that lay hidden behind their cave all the time. Encountering a "Macawnivore" a brightly colored feline that Gran dubs "Chunky the Death Cat," the family flees him until he is deterred by swarms of piranhakeets that devoured a ground whale. Using another horn, Eep calls to Guy who rescues them from the birds with his fire. After a great deal of confusion regarding their first contact with fire, Grug imprisons Guy in a log until he can guide them somewhere safe.
Outrunning the destruction, Guy is trusted enough to be let out of the log and he gives the Croods rudimentary shoes to walk over the harsh landscape as he leads them to a mountain in which he says will be safe. Guy also tells them stories of "Tomorrow" a haven of safety where he is headed and where curiosity is not deadly as Grug had claimed. At his treetop home, Grug sees the impression Guy is leaving on his family and he becomes jealous, especially when he realizes that Eep has fallen in love with Guy. Attempting to invent things like Guy, Grug only further embarrasses himself and drives his family further away from him. After the family is split up in a labyrinth of tunnels, all but Grug manages to escape by coming up with ideas of overcoming obstacles in their paths.
Reaching the mountain, Grug tries to force his family to hide out in a cave, but they resist, telling him that they can't live in caves anymore, that they don't want to "survive" but to "live". This enrages Grug, who attacks Guy and the both of them end up in a tar flow where Grug learns that Guy's family had perished in one. Realizing that Guy's method of survival is better for his family, Grug works with him and they lure Chunky into a trap to free themselves. The family reunites, then flees a massive cataclysm as the land begins to violently rip apart.
The family is cut off from their destination by a continental split, but Grug, realizing the errors of his ways decides to throw his family to safety. He shares an invention he calls a "hug" with Eep, briefly before sending her across as well. Cut off from his family, Grug finds a cave for safety, where he encounters Chunky; who is truly a frightened and sweet feline, and he comes up with an idea to get across the chasm. Using a skeleton and the Piranhakeets to fashion a simple airship, Grug manages to send themselves; including several animals the family had encountered during their journey, across the chasm, reuniting with his family once again. He apologizes to them all and promises to never be so overbearing again.
Later, the Croods now live on the land and have settled on a vast beach where every day they can follow the light to "Tomorrow."Nicolas Cage as Grug Crood, a caveman who is the well-meaning but overprotective and old-fashioned patriarch of the Croods family.
Emma Stone as Eep Crood, a rebellious teenage cavegirl who is Grug and Ugga's eldest daughter and is filled with curiosity and a desire for exploring and wonder.
Ryan Reynolds as Guy, a nomadic boy who is not as strong as the Croods, but prefers using his brain and comes up with various ideas and inventions. He is accompanied by a sloth named Belt.
Catherine Keener as Ugga Crood, a cavewoman who is Grug's wife, the daughter of Gran, and the mother of Eep, Thunk, and Sandy. She is more open-minded than Grug, but also finds it difficult to keep her family safe.
Clark Duke as Thunk Crood, a caveboy who is Grug and Ugga's son. Thunk is the 9-year-old middle child, who is not bright and has bad coordination but has a good heart. He gets a crocopup named Douglas for a pet.
Cloris Leachman as Gran, an old and ferocious cavewoman who is the mother-in-law of Grug, the mother of Ugga, and the grandmother of Eep, Thunk, and Sandy.
Chris Sanders as Belt, Guy's pet sloth.
Randy Thom as Sandy Crood, Grug and Ugga's ferocious baby daughter who still bites and growls instead of speaking. Thom created her voice with creature noises.
The film was announced in 2005 under the working title Crood Awakening, originally a stop-motion film being made by Aardman Animations as a part of a "five-film deal" with DreamWorks Animation. John Cleese and Kirk DeMicco had been working together on a feature based on Roald Dahl's story The Twits, a project that never went into production. DreamWorks got a copy of their script and liked it, and invited Cleese and DeMicco over to take a look at the company's ideas to see if they found something they would like to work with. They chose a basic story idea about two cavemen on the run, an inventor and a luddite, and wrote the first few drafts of the script. In January 2007, with the departure of Aardman, the rights for the film reverted to DreamWorks.
In March 2007, Chris Sanders, the writer of Mulan and writer/director of Lilo & Stitch, joined DreamWorks to direct the film, with intentions to significantly rewrite the script. In September 2008, it was reported that Sanders took over How to Train Your Dragon putting The Croods on hold, and thus postponing its original schedule for a year to a then planned March 2012. The film's final title, The Croods, was revealed in May 2009, along with new co-director, Kirk DeMicco. In March 2011, the film got another delay, being pushed back a year to March 1, 2013, and finally settled at March 22.
The Croods had its world premiere in the out of competition section at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival on February 15, 2013. It premiered in the United States on March 22, 2013. The film was the first feature film to be shown in the 4DX format, featuring strobe lights, tilting seats, blowing wind and fog and odor effects in Hungary, which is shown at the Cinema City theater in Budapest, Hungary. It was also the first film in China to be distributed by Oriental DreamWorks, a film production and distribution company founded in 2012 by DreamWorks Animation and Chinese investment companies.
The Croods was released on Blu-ray (2D and 3D) and DVD on October 1, 2013. The DVD and Blu-ray comes with a Belt plush toy.
The Croods received generally positive reviews from critics. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 70% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 136 reviews, with an average score of 6.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "While it may not be as (ahem) evolved as the best modern animated fare, The Croods will prove solidly entertaining for families seeking a fast-paced, funny cartoon adventure." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, the film was given a score of 55 based on 30 reviews.
Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying, "A visually dazzling animated adventure with a well-chosen voice cast is hampered by lackluster humor and a meandering story." Tom Russo of The Boston Globe gave the film two and a half out of four, saying, "Had the movie figured out a way to stay the less-cliched course, it might have helped the DreamWorks oeuvre take steps toward Pixar's emotional resonance." Keith Staskiewicz of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C+, and wrote in his review, "A handful of adrenalizing sequences of animated anarchy can't save this story from feeling overly primitive." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called the film, "Further back on the evolutionary chain than the Flintstones, and also lagging in the comedy stakes, this sweet Stone Age clan nonetheless will captivate the youngsters." Leslie Felperin of Variety found that, "The main problem with the film is that the script simply isn't very funny, and its various subplots never quite mesh satisfyingly together." Tirdad Derakhshani of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying, "The movie is well-edited and lean, a fast-paced, action-filled bit of froth that manages to be diverting and surprisingly fun." Lisa Kennedy of The Denver Post gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "It captures the wonder (and more gently, the anxiety) of discovery time and time again. And the filmmakers have a hoot playing with the Croods' encounters with, as well as their misunderstandings of, all things new." Laremy Legel of Film.com gave the film a B, saying "How to Train Your Dragon and Lilo & Stitch are completely indicative of the experience you'll have with The Croods, which is to say a supremely positive one."
The Croods grossed $187,168,425 in North America, and $400,036,243 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $587,204,668. According to Deadline.com's estimation, the film made a profit of $106.5 million. It is the eleventh highest-grossing 2013 film, and the fourth highest-grossing 2013 animated film (behind Frozen, Despicable Me 2, and Monsters University). It became the second highest-grossing original DreamWorks Animation film, behind Kung Fu Panda. As of January 2014, it is the eighty-ninth highest-grossing film, and the twenty-first highest-grossing animated film.
In North America, the film earned $11.6 million on its opening day. On its opening weekend, the film topped the box office with $43.6 million from 4,046 locations, a vast improvement over the DreamWorks Animation's directly preceding release Rise of the Guardians, yet still below some of the studio's other original films, like Megamind and How to Train Your Dragon.
Outside North America, the film topped the box office during its first weekend with $62.4 million (including previews from the previous weekend). It opened at number one in 54 countries, with the biggest openings achieved in the UK, Ireland and Malta ($8.08 million), Russia and the CIS ($7.82 million), China ($6.34 million), and Mexico ($4.37 million). In total grosses, the film's biggest market was China with $63.3 million, becoming the highest-grossing original animated film, surpassing DreamWorks Animation's film Kung Fu Panda. In addition, the film earned $43.1 million in the UK, Ireland and Malta, $28.6 million in Russia and the CIS, $27.7 million in Mexico, and $23.8 million in Australia. Earning a total of $400 million, it is the highest-grossing 2013 film distributed by 20th Century Fox.
A video game based on the film, titled The Croods: Prehistoric Party!, was released on March 19, 2013. Developed by Torus Games, Bandai Namco, and published by D3 Publisher, it was adapted for Wii U, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo DS. The game enables players to take the members of the Croods family on an adventure through 30 party-style mini-games. It received mainly negative reviews.
A mobile game, titled The Croods, which is a village building game, was developed and published by Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds. It was released on March 14, 2013 to the iOS and Android platforms. It received negative reviews from critics with Metacritic giving it a 40 out of 100.
By April 2013, DreamWorks Animation had started developing a sequel to the film, with Sanders and DeMicco returning to direct it. According to DeMicco, the sequel would focus on Ugga and motherhood, making it "the first chapter of society," expanding on the first film, which is about "the last chapter of the caveman."
In September 2013, it had been confirmed that Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, and Ryan Reynolds would reprise their roles in the sequel. On June 12, 2014, it was announced that the sequel would be released on November 3, 2017. Two months later, it was pushed back from its original release date of November 3, 2017 to December 22, 2017. By May 21, 2015, Leslie Mann and Kat Dennings had joined the voice cast. Mann would lend her voice to an upscale mother of a rival family, while Dennings would voice her daughter. Catherine Keener and Clark Duke would also reprise their roles.
On August 9, 2016, nearing NBCUniversal/Comcast's impending acquisition of DreamWorks Animation, 20th Century Fox removed the film from its planned December 22, 2017 release schedule. The film would be instead released by Universal Pictures sometime in 2018. Two weeks later, it was reported that The Lego Movie and Hotel Transylvania co-writers Kevin and Dan Hageman had been hired to rewrite the script. However, on November 11, 2016, DreamWorks announced that production for the sequel was cancelled. According to reports, there had been doubts about proceeding with the project before Universal's acquisition of DreamWorks, and it was DreamWorks' decision to cancel the film.
A traditionally-animated television series based on the film, titled Dawn of the Croods, debuted on December 24, 2015 on Netflix. As none of the original cast members that voiced the Croods family in the film reprise their roles in the series, the voice cast consists of Dan Milano as Grug, Stephanie Lemelin as Eep, Cree Summer as Ugga, A.J. Locascio as Thunk, Laraine Newman as Gran, and Grey Griffin as Sandy.