Seven years after DreamWorks’ “The Croods” reinvented and recycled “The Flintstones,” minus the brontosaurus ribs, for a new generation comes a sequel, “The Croods: A New Age,” now in theatres, available soon as a digital rental.
At the start of the new movie the Croods—Grug and Ugga Crood (Nicolas Cage and Catherine Keener) and their kids daughters Eep (Emma Stone) and Sandy (Randy Thom), son Thunk (Clark Duke) and Gran (Cloris Leachman)—have outgrown the cave. In the search for a new, safe home they come across a colorful paradise with walls to protect them from attack and plenty of food. “It sucks out there,” says Ugga (Catherine Keener). “It’s so much better here. Out there if no one has died before breakfast it’s a win.”
As they settle in they find they’re not alone. The Bettermans, Phil (Peter Dinklage), Hope (Leslie Mann) and daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran), a family a rung or three up on the evolutionary ladder already live. They have modern conveniences like windows, irrigation, separate bedrooms and more. “It’s called a shower. You should try it!” The modern stone age family looks down on the Croods. In fact, they’d more rightly be named The Betterthans.
When peril comes their way the Croods and the Bettermans, despite their differences, learn they have more in common than they thought. In this story there’s room for both brains and brawn.
“The Croods: A New Age” hasn’t evolved much since 2013. Like the first movie it is still jam packed with loads of caveman comedy and Paleolithic physical action. The new one has a strong message of female empowerment and the recycles the original’s theme of adversity actually bringing people closer together. It’s a winning, if familiar, combo until the noisy, frenetic ending that, while eye popping, is all sound and fury without much payoff.
The voice cast gamely delivers the story. It’s fun to hear Cage as Grug Crood actually have some fun with a role these days. It’s a welcome step away from his direct-to-the-delete-bin action movies he’s been choosing lately. Stone brings a spirited and adventurous edge to cavegirl Eep, and Reynolds, as the romantic lead, proves that his comic timing translates very well from live action to animation. They trade the often-ridiculous dialogue with ease, milking maximum humour from the script.
“The Croods: A New Age” is chaotic fun, a movie aimed squarely at kids with just enough jokes about raising a family to keep parents interested.