After seven years of developments, cancellations, and revivals, The Croods come back to the theaters with a (somewhat) new adventure to settle in.
In his directorial debut film, Joel Crawford brings the family back many of us loved. We have Grug (Nicolas Cage), the over-protective father and one who still wants the family to stay intact. Ugga (Catherine Keener) as the tempered, sensible spouse and Gran (Cloris Leachman) as the uncontainable caveman grandmother. With their children comes Eep (Emma Stone), the adventurous teenage daughter, Thunk (Clark Duke) as the dimwitted, window-attached son, and Sandy (Kailey Crawford) as a dog-like child who has all the ingredients to become the next generation’s caveman leader. Add in Guy (Ryan Reynolds), and we have multiple stories to tell at hand.
Like in its predecessor, the film does not shy away from Eep’s and Guy’s blossoming relationship. They start seeking to have a life of their own, but Grug is adamant about wanting them to stay as a pack. The gang has been on a journey to seek out Tomorrow, a life filled with food, love, and no struggles to survive the harsh environment. They stumble upon the land with walls and plentiful amounts of bananas to find a family that has evolved, calling themselves the Bettermans. Phil (Peter Dinklage) and Hope (Leslie Mann) as the parents, with their daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tan).
The film jumbles around with evolution versus primitivism and becomes saddled with some problems on love and relationships. We get it; the Croods are cavemen who have lived long lives in dark holes and strayed away from new things to survive. It continues that notion from the first film about how people stuck in their lifestyles can be a massive detriment to themselves and others.
The most prominent theme of this film is the aspect of hypocrisy and tolerance: attempting to instill lifestyle beliefs onto others can end up disrespecting those who don’t share the same views (in the case of foreigners), and dealing with others choices can be okay as long as they are safe. The Bettermans and Croods do not see eye to eye about many things. It becomes very confusing as the film progresses with these folks while also combatting Eep’s and Guy’s relationship.
So much becomes thrown in our face, whether it is something silly about Thunk thinking the window is a television of sorts or Guy adapting the “modern” life and that it is never fulfilling. Entertaining for sure, but that does not warrant this film’s need to exist (let alone a third one to come out in the next few years, probably). In the first film, we stumbled across a family who had no idea how to progress in a continually evolving world, and Guy serves as the change for them to learn to accept it. Here, it is the same scheme, plus the confounding third act about crazy monkeys and an overwhelming approach to the resentment of the married couples that it tampers the love story of Eep and Guy.
One thing Dreamworks does get right is its digital animation. Like Pixar, Dreamworks has learned to evolve and adapt over the decades to deliver a more compelling visual picture for families and kids to watch. There is a vibrance attached to this work, with the colors and images working out so nicely. Families will find this an enjoyable product, but due to its lackadaisical storytelling, it won’t be sharing the same spotlight as the Toy Story Series or The Lego Batman Movie. The Croods: A New Age serves as a fun product many could use in times like this.