First off, let me admit that I usually cry at animated movies. I have the distinct honor of probably being the only person to cry at the previews to Return of Neverland and Finding Nemo, but I digress, Yesterday, I went to see the Croods and my crying streak continued. If you’ve seen only seen the previews to the film you may wonder about my sanity. It looks freaking hilarious and it absolutely is. I laughed quite often. What I didn’t expect was to be so taken in by the story of a daughter and her father.
The character of Eep, voiced by the wonderful Emma Stone, struggles to come into her own in a family where her overprotective dad won’t let them out of the cave. The father, Grug (Nicholas Cage), tells stories where anyone that tries something new dies. His is a message of fear, born out of inexperience and love. Grug doesn’t want to keep his daughter from goodness, he just wants to protect her from everything!
It’s hard not to watch as a grown woman and see both sides. I can absolutely relate to the desire to follow the light, which Eep does both physically and metaphorically, but having loved children with my whole heart, I can also see the desire to protect them from hurt at any cost. Watching the journey (and it’s an actual journey) of Eep and Grug from the cave of darkness into a new world of understanding took me back to my journey with my father.
While we didn’t have as much conflict as Eep and Grug, we had our share of moments. It’s hard when you watch a movie, hear the words for which you judged your dad, and realize they just came out of your own mouth not an hour before. The empathy and compassion I felt for Rudy Ray Davis at how hard it must have been to love me and give me freedom brought tears to my eyes.
But those tears were nothing compared to the onslaught at the end of the movie (STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS).
As the family runs from the land that is crumbling behind them, they suddenly encounter a chasm that it too great for them all to cross. Grug, being a caveman and immensely strong, selflessly throws each member of the family across the divide, saving Eep (of course!) for last. She knows that once he throws her he won’t be able to come with them and the moment where she tells him she’s not ready to go, that she has too much to tell him, to fix…was where I first lost it. He responds in the way only a good father can. He tells her he knows, that he loves her, and he gives her a hug.
I am lucky enough to have a father who knows me, loves me, hugs me and forgives me.
At this point in the movie, I don’t think it can get worse, but oh, am I ever wrong. Grug tells her to blow her shell if she’s in trouble and throws her to the other side where they catch one last glimpse of each other before the cliff he is standing upon collapses. Of course, the family all believes he has perished and eventually they start blowing their shells as a way to honor him more than anything else. But Grug is alive and he hears the call.
His response is to immediately find a way to come to their rescue because he believes they are in danger. He concocts a crazy scheme that should never have worked and ends up by their side.
This is where I became absolutely verklempt. The selfless love, the willingness to face any danger, the ability to do what must be done because the people you love need you and are in trouble…I’ve only known one man in my life that could actually do what Grug did and I’m lucky enough to call him Dad.
So, thank you Rudy Davis for loving me despite my flaws, for protecting me even when I didn’t want you to, for forgiving me when I was an egotistical know it all brat, and for being the most loving, sacrificing, generous man in the world.