Our notion of the modern Stone Age family gets a tweak in “The Croods,” the latest bit of 3-D rock candy from DreamWorks Animation. Instead of a caveman world that’s infrastructurally a lot like ours, only with foot-powered sedans, it’s a world that’s emotionally a lot like ours, with experience-starved teens and overprotective parents butting heads. But then, with prehistoric beasties and tectonic catastrophe waiting at every turn, we can see where the ’rents are coming from.
Emma Stone voices Eep, a cutely brutish cavegirl (think Fiona from “Shrek,” only with worse posture and better skin) who yearns to see what’s over the horizon. Or out there in the dark. Or at least beyond the monotonous confines of her family’s craggy canyon home. But the movie does an entertaining job of impressing on us what a struggle survival is at the dawn of man. It’s an all-hands-on-deck family action episode just to snag a few precious drops of proto-emu egg yolk. There’s lots of cleverly rendered anthropological skittishness in response to the unknown — which is virtually everything. And for Eep’s dad, Grug (Nicolas Cage, cartoonish in every sense), “new” is inherently synonymous with “deadly.” So Eep isn’t going anywhere.