At Dreamworks Studios, I was able to sit down with supervising animator James Baxter and co-director Kirk DeMicco to find out more about the characters and the inspirations behind each of the unique Croods family members. Read below to get to know the family members and their pets, and find out why you'll fall in love with the Croods.
1. Eep - The Rebellious Teenager
Animator James Baxter told us that all of the Croods have a little bit of animal influence. They are cave people after all, and they have to be able to move and interact with their environment in ways that we in the civilized world wouldn't dream of. James said of Eep, "The way that she moves around is much more athletic, much more dynamic, more like a jungle cat than a monkey."
But Eep isn't all animal. She's a strong, beautiful girl, and when you see her in the movie, you'll notice she's a lot Emma Stone. "When we started performance tests with her, we discovered the joys of Emma Stone," Baxter related. "Our supervising animator, Lena Anderson, was reviewing a lot of Emma Stone footage and noticed Emma's incredible mouth shape. She's so expressive when she talks, that she had all these pictures of Emma up on her walls and just the weird things that she does." The animators copied the way Emma's mouth moves, and the way she frowns just a little when she smiles. The authentic facial movements make Eep seem more like a real person, and her emotions come across as genuine and relatable.
2. Grug - The Overprotective Dad
Like any dad, he's hurt when his teenage daughter rebels against his good intentions. He aches for the days when she looked up to him, and when she actually wanted to be snuggled up with her family in the cave. He's doing the best he can to protect his daughter, and he can't see how to do that without alienating her.
Grug's caveman look is something the animators played with a lot in order to get the body mechanics just right. They new they wanted a Grug who was a little bit ape-like, who could do super human things. But, if he walked on his knuckles all the time, it made him look a little too prehistoric. Baxter related, "We decided, yes, it's cool, but we don't want to do it all the time. It would be weird if you just spent the entire movie like that. We decided to mix it up. Sometimes, we'll put his fist down. Sometimes, we'll put his knuckles down like a gorilla. Sometimes, we'll put a flat hand down." Grug's versatility allows him to survive in a harsh world and makes his physical feats a bit more believable.
3. Ugga - The First Modern Mom
Ugga tosses her baby Sandy around like a chimp. Being a cavebaby, Sandy has to be a little tougher, so Ugga doesn't treat her like a fragile little thing. But even though she is tough, Ugga is also gentle with her children and has a great balance between tough love and motherly nurturing.
4. Sandy - The Wild Child
James Baxter told us, "We modeled [Sandy] after something like a little Jack Russell Terrier in behavior. Because, she runs around, bites everything...So, Sandy was just a blast to animate-- this crazy little feral kid."
5. Thunk - The Meat Head
According to Kirk and James, Thunk's movements were modeled after a funny YouTube video of a baby chimp. "He's actually based a lot on this little baby chimp that [animator Hans Dastrup] found with these incredibly floppy arms," said Baxter. "Hans was doing these experiments with these crazy, overly floppy, goofy, arm movements...even with the feet, they're sort of turned in and sideways."
6. Gran - The Mother-in-Law
Animator James Baxter described: "I love the concept of Gran, this sort of crusty old lady in a hollowed out lizard skin. We wanted to infuse her a little bit with that sort of crocodile vibe. You notice in the movie, sometimes she sort of slinks around and does this slippery movement, but that coupled with like the classic sort of crunchy old lady vibe."
Guy's background is kind of a bummer. His lost his family and Belt is the only companion he has now. Being with the Croods, as crazy as they all seem, brings him that sense of belonging he has been missing.
"He's definitely the Human 2.0 of the group," says James Baxter. "His thing is definitely much less about being animal like. We wanted to try and make him special." He also said animators tried to "nail down the sort of frenetic kind of crazy 'I've been on my own for too long, I talk to myself' kind of vibe that he's got going on."