‘Croods’ best ensemble movie since ‘Incredibles.’ Take your kids!

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, “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 writer 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, 4 females to 2 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.

Eeps 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 the family about a female character who was obviously based on Eep. Theses 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***

Update There’s just one more scene that kind of bugged me in “The Croods.” I forgot to mention it here, but I’ve been thinking about it since. So the dad and Guy are trying to lure a creature into a trap and as bait, they create a female version of the creature, desperate for help. The damsel in distress is grotesque, with a lipstick mouth. The attacking creature rescues her. It was a bummer for me to see 3 male characters act out this gender stereotyped scene.



Disney’s Rapunzel movie changes title and cast to attract boys

The LA Times reports that that after the disappointing box office for “The Princess and the Frog,” Disney is drastically remaking it’s new Rapunzel movie to attract boys. It’s now called “Tangled” and co-stars a “swashbuckling” male in the lead.


Some people are upset. Retired Disney/ Pixar animator, Floyd Norman, says, “The idea of changing the title of a classic like ‘Rapunzel’ to ‘Tangled’ is beyond stupid. I’m still hoping that Disney will eventually regain their sanity and return the title of their movie to what it should be. I’m convinced they’ll gain nothing from this except the public seeing Disney as desperately trying to find an audience.”

But Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios defends the decision. Referring to “The Princess and the Frog,” he says: “Based upon the response from fans and critics, we believe it would have been higher if it wasn’t prejudged by its title.”

Catmull is right about the prejudging. I’m worried that he’s wrong about who and why.

I prejudged “The Princess and the Frog” based on it’s title. I’m the mom of three young girls. I can’t spend any more money to see yet another Disney princess vehicle. (I was kind of intrigued by the first African American Princess, though I heard she spent most of the movie as a frog.) I think it’s great that Rapunzel is getting retooled, because the last thing I want to sit through, or my daughters to sit through, is watching a girl stuck in a tower, waiting around for some guy to rescue her.

But did they change that part? Or just the title?

I can’t tell. It’s ironic because the LA Times article is supposedly about Rapunzel being effaced by a boy but mostly all they report on is that boy, the title, the male executives, the male audience, and the male animators. What about Rapunzel? Here is what the article tells us about her: “The demure princess is transformed into a feisty teen.”

Steve Jobs,  Ed Catmull, John LasseterSteve Jobs, Ed Catmull, John Lasseter 

A good sign, I suppose. Though I’m not sure about “feisty.” Would one call a boy “feisty”? It seems to imply strong yet cutesy. Maybe the male equivalent is “jaunty.” I’m mincing words here, but this is all the information they’ve given me to go on. And my extensive, past experience with Disney’s treatment of girls, along the reporting here on Disney’s hyper-concern about attracting a male audience, worries me.

Note to Disney executives: your potential female audience is sick of the princess movies too. We’re not sick of girls, just princesses. We represent half the population, and we’d like to see some more variety in your plots, and we’d like to see multiple strong female characters in your movies.

Also, we’d like to know why you bend over backwards to make a movie appeal to boys (market research, plot and title changes, characters added) but don’t preform the same production gymnastics to attract girls. Or even try to figure out what girls want. Do all the male executives, animators, and directors at Disney just assume they know what girls want to see? Or will put up with?


The issue here is not putting “princess” in the title. The more controversial, unmentioned issue is that Disney executives are concerned about putting a girl in the title role at all. It’s prime Hollywood real estate because it means she’s the star of the show. Historically, Disney allows a girl to claim that space only if she’s a princess. It’s kind of like how you can win a scholarship if you compete for the Miss America title, but first you’ve got to parade around in your bikini.

Movies from Pixar/ Disney with strong females including “Monsters and Aliens” or “The Incredibles” usually have the power woman hidden in an ensemble cast. Can you imagine a movie blatantly touting its cool girl star, perhaps called “Fantastic Ms. Fox?” Do you see the gender divide here– it would be considered some crazy feminist art film.

If you’re going to comment that’s it’s in our DNA that girls will see movies about boys but boys won’t see movies about girls, please see my post here from a couple days ago. The basic point being girls don’t have much of a choice, and they’re just expected to suck it up.

Executives, Director, producers,  and stars of Washington Post 

Executives, Director, producers, and stars of “Up”

There’s some hope for the future though. Buried at the bottom of the LA Times piece is some incredible news, especially in the wake of Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar win, making her the first female director to win an Oscar in 82 years.

“Concluding it had too many animated girl flicks in its lineup, Disney has shelved its long-gestating project “The Snow Queen,” based on the Hans Christian Andersen story. “Snow Queen” would have marked the company’s fourth animated film with a female protagonist, following “The Princess and the Frog,” “Tangled” and Pixar’s forthcoming “The Bear and the Bow,” directed by Pixar’s first female director, Brenda Chapman, and starring Reese Witherspoon.”

Director  Brenda ChapmanDirector Brenda Chapman 

Did you catch that? Brenda Chapman is Pixar’s first female director. Yes, she’s making an androgynously titled movie, but it’s “starring” Reese Witherspoon, and there’s no indication that Witherspoon will be a princess.

I like the title “Tangled.” I have to admit, it’s witty. The LA Times elaborates: “Disney tested a number of titles, finally settling on ‘Tangled’ because people responded to meanings beyond the obvious hair reference: a twisted version of the familiar story and the tangled relationship between the two lead characters.”

And somehow, in spite of everything I know, the reconceived, witty title gives me hope that the movie is also reconceived in a way that could be just as imaginative and special. I mean, really, how much worse could the original plot be?

Disney should be re-imagining these misogynist fairytales. I’m just hoping that Rapunzel doesn’t disappear from her movie the way she has from it’s title and the LA Times article about it all.