Movie Review: ‘The Croods: A New Age’

Director: Joel Crawford

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Clorid Leachman, Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann, Kelly Marie Tran

Plot: A family of cavepeople are travelling across the land looking for a safe place to settle down, and find themselves in a fenced off, technologically advanced settlement of more evolved people.

Review: The Croods: A New Ages is the theatrical sequel to 2013s The Croods and the spun-off Netflix series. Our thoughts on those previous entries into the franchise are…well, we haven’t seen them. We’ve never felt compelled to see them, comedic cavepeople have been done a number of times and we’ve found Dreamworks animated movies are more about the celebrity voice actors than anything else. So we’re going into this one fresh and without high expectations.

We open with Guy (Reynolds) and Eep (Stone) explaining the backstory. Eep and her family are cavepeople lead by her over-protective father Grug (Cage), whilst Guy is an orphan from a more advanced line of people who provides them with technologies such as fire. Guy and Eep are in love, and Grug worries that they’ll leave to start their own pack. Along with Ugga (Keener), Thunk (Duke), Gran (Leachman), baby Sandy and their pets, they travel the land in search of the fabled ‘Tomorrow’, where they will be safe. They happen across a walled off area, home to the Betterman family of Phil (Dinklage), Hope (Mann) and Dawn (Tran) who welcome them into their much more advanced way of life. It isn’t long, however, until conflicts come to a head.

There’s no one overarching conflict, but than a collection of little ones that have little to do with the action packed finale. Guy has more in common with Dawn, creating a love triangle between them and Eep. Eep encourages Dawn to go beyond the wall and experience the real world much to Dawn’s parents objections. The Bettermans think they’re better than the Croods, while the Croods think the Bettermans are condescending. Grug wants his to eat bananas but Phil won’t let him. The Bettermans want Guy to stay with Dawn, and trick Grug into playing along. Thunk is addicted to watching things through the window and won’t leave the couch. This is more a sitcom than a movie story, with a contrived abduction and rescue mission to cap it off.

You may have noticed the absolutely stacked cast, and they’ve got a group of highly expressive performers in to play the larger than life characters. In terms of Oscars and Emmys this might be one of the most awarded ensembles we’ve seen in a while. Cloris Leachman on her own has a record 22 Emmy nominations. The cast makes this a fun set-up.

Another aspect we enjoyed was the production design of their world. Rather than attempting any form of historical accuracy, it’s an exaggerated cartoon landscape populated by unique animal hybrids. Comparisons to The Flintstones are inevitable, with the aesthetic of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs to heighten the comedy. The primitive versions of modern devices are clever and the hybrid animal mash-ups are visually striking. That said, the scene of the wolf spiders are going to induce some nightmares in the younger set.

Finally, we have Gran’s reveal as a former warrior, leader of the Thunder Sisters. The epic entrance of the women characters bursting in to save the men is done substantially better than the cringe-inducing ‘she’s not alone’ moment of Avengers Endgame.

It’s not a movie that’s going to advance the medium of animation. It’s not going to be anyones favourite for the year. But as a family friendly piece of escapism it does a bang up job,

Rating: SIX out of TEN