The Croods: A New Age
Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Leslie Mann, Peter Dinklage, Kelly Marie Tran (voices)
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…will entertain and inspire the little ones…
It’s been seven years since Dreamworks’ stab at Ice Age type shenanigans with The Croods, directed by Kirk DeMicco (next working on Sony’s musical animation Vivo, featuring songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda) and Chris Sanders (who brought us Lilo & Stitch, and most recently helmed The Call of the Wild). Appropriately, Ice Age’s influence is referenced in the title of the sequel, The Croods: New Age, marking the feature directorial debut of Joel Crawford, after establishing himself as a storyboard artist and Head of Story on Dreamworks’ Trolls.
The focus is once again on family, as the Croods – father Grug (Nic Cage), mother Ugga (Catherine Keener), oldest daughter Eep (Emma Stone), son Thunk (Clark Duke), youngest daughter Sandy, Gran (Cloris Leachman) and Eep’s boyfriend Guy (Ryan Reynolds) – discover an oasis engineered by the Betterman family – dad Phil (Peter Dinklage), mum Hope (Leslie Mann) and daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran). After initially being welcomed with open arms, the Bettermans soon tire of the Croods’ oafishness and start plotting to move them on, apart from Guy, who they have their eyes on for Dawn. But then, punch monkeys…
Much of the film’s humour is derived from the juxtaposition of a caveman’s life with our own, which is multiplied when the Bettermans are introduced; they have taken the limitations of the time and adapted them for modern comfort. When these scenarios are played out with a talented voice cast, the laughs are delivered aplenty – albeit, for adults, Nic Cage and Ryan Reynolds’ voices in particular, take you out of the situation; as an adult audience, you sometimes wish they would rely on their well developed schtick instead of being at the service of the characters.
The Croods: New Age continues the original film’s strong depiction of femininity. Although it plays to archetype with most of the characters, Eep and Gran (who wouldn’t be out of place in the matriarchal tribe in Mad Max: Fury Road) are the real heroes of the story, using both brains and brawn to win the day.
With Peter Rabbit 2 moving out of Boxing Day release, there is no alternative for the younger kids on this traditionally popular cinema date; however, they won’t be disappointed, especially with the action-fuelled extended finale. And the grownups, although unchallenged, can rest assured that The Croods: New Age will entertain and inspire the little ones, though they will hardly remember it before the next family film is released in the coming weeks.