Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Patriarchy vs The Croods

I don't do movie reviews very often. For one thing, I can't keep up with the movies I want to see, let alone any others. So I'm not on the cutting edge here at all. In fact, this movie is a year old.

The Croods came out in 2013. I took a couple of my kids to see it. Then it was released on Netflix and I watched it two more times, the last time being Monday night the 21st of April, 2014. I have not grown tired of this flick yet and would watch it again with someone who has never seen it. The zany humor and pro-family theme combination make it one of my favorites of this decade.

Sadly, many Christians won't go see it because it is based on a family of cave people living in a prehistoric era. Many Christians are so concerned with their Young Earth Creation view that they will miss the symbolism in this movie.

Seriously, how many teenage daughters, hitting puberty, have looked upon their families as positively stone age. Conversely, how many fathers dealing with their daughters' puberty have wondered what happened to that little girl they loved. Those poor fathers can't figure out where this emotional/dramatic monstrosity evolved from.

Perhaps the reason this movie has captured my heart is that I watched it back during a time when my church was showing the "Courageous" movie put out by Doug Phillip's Vision Forum group. I didn't see Courageous myself, but did view the purity ring scene from it. You can find that scene at Spiritual Sounding Board:Who Owns a Daughter's Heart.

Contrasting the restrictive, controlling, push of patriarchy over their daughters with the struggles of the father/daughter relationship as portrayed in The Croods brought me to actual tears. And I don't cry much. Just ask my kids. They call me robot mom. I don't display a lot of emotion.

It brought me to tears for two reasons. The first reason for those tears was a deep anger and frustration over how Patriarchy is botching up families with their control and fear tactics.

But the second reason was because The Croods dealt with the subject matter of overprotective fathers and frustrated daughters with more charm and grace than anything the Patriarchy crowd has ever come up with.

Let's get into the review part.

As mentioned before, there is a character conflict between father Grug and daughter Eep. Grug wants to keep his family safe. They are the only family left in the area, since the other families were all taken out by various prehistoric dangers. And as Eep says, Grug has been able to keep them safe because he is strong. That, and they hide in a cave most of the time.

Eep can't stand the cave and wants to explore. But everything is dangerous and their family motto is: "Never not be afraid!"

Then enters the character 'Guy' who tells Eep that the world is ending, changing, and that the only way to escape it is to follow the sun. But Eep knows she can't leave her family and the safety of the cave.

However, the ground shakes, the cave is destroyed and the Croods are forced to venture into dangerous territory that is all the more dangerous because it is unfamiliar.

Along the way Eep meets up with Guy again and he joins their small group (whether he likes it or not) because they need his fire. Somehow, Guy convinces them all that they need to follow the sun. The presence of Guy adds tension due to his new ways of thinking that Grug sees as bad.  But it's his new ways that help them survive their trek Westward.

I was in a conversation over on Thatmom's blog with a gal by the name of Avelinn concerning the draw of the Patriarchy on the Evangelical movement. We came to the conclusion that the reason it was so enticing is because we are in a time of changing and it's scary. Patriarchy promises to keep our children safe, like Grug's devotion to the cave and rules kept the Croods safe for so long. But as we have seen, Patriarchy can't keep our children safe. And in fact, Patriarchs, like Doug Phillips, are dangerous wolves in sheep's clothing the prey on children. I had considered writing on The Croods and contrasting it to Patriarchy. Our conversation has convinced me to carry it out.

Because the conclusion of The Croods is far more satisfying than the conclusions the modern day Patriarchs have. The Patriarch's conclusion involve scandal, like Phillips, Mahaney, and Gothard.

Without giving too much away, we learn that it wasn't just Grug's strength that was able to save his family. It was also the power of Grug's love for his family that saved them in the end.

If you haven't figured it out, yet. I highly recommend The Croods if you are looking for family entertainment that actually builds up families rather than tears them down.

It is available on Netflix and DVD.


Donald Johnson said...

Thanks, now I know to look for it and show it to my fam.

Mara Reid said...

Beware of the harsh mother-in-law jokes. But she is able to dish it out back and their relationship is ends up good in the end.

Julie Anne said...

Great article, Mara. I took my kids to see that movie last summer and my kids have seen it several times since (it must be on Netflix). I, too, noticed the father/daughter relationship and was surprised to see such a healthy exchange between the two. Now I'm going to have to watch it again with Patriarchy in mind. It's a fun movie!

Kristen said...

My family enjoyed this movie a lot. It does have a great message about not living in fear, but facing the world as we find it and being free to explore and learn. At the same time, it doesn't throw the dad under the bus for his reactionary attitude, but shows that there are real reasons for it, and that he too can learn to overcome it.

Mara Reid said...

You know, Julie Anne and Kristen, in the Croods, the dad IS the leader. That should have made comp pushers happy.

And Grug has so much love in his heart for his family. All he wanted to do was protect them. This also should have made the comps happy.

But the comps were all too busy ooooing and ahing over "Courageous" and its message about 'manhood' and 'fatherhood'. They missed this winner.

Manhood and fatherhood and personhood are all better portrayed in The Croods than Courageous. Eep was more alive and real than the daughter in the purity ring scene. That daughter was flat, plain, not alive and not believable. She was play acting a role that VF approved. Eep, with all her love and zest for life, would be despised by VF people.

The Croods was a better film because it wasn't all about focusing on how critical and important manhood/fatherhood are and how the rest of the family should orbit around him. The Croods just let the characters 'be' and do what came out of the abundance of their hearts instead of pounding them down into some flat, cookie-cutter role.

Kristen said...

Mara, I think another reason complementarians might have ignored it is that the thematic equivalent to what the dad learns would, in Courageous have resulted in the dad telling his daughter to take the ring off and just be who she was, and he'd support her in her own life decisions. Patriarchalism can't have dad's turning away from control (only from irresponsibility)or granting women real self-agency.

Mara Reid said...


But I was thinking more along the lines of the softer comps.

Of course the harder ones and patriarchs can't go there.
They don't want their daughters to fly and soar and breath in the free air. (John 3:8)
They want them confined and controlled and bowed over. (Luke 13:11-13)