Out this Friday is the latest animation from Dreamworks Animation, The Croods: A New Age. This is the sequel to the 2013 hit The Croods. Which is a surprising revelation to me. It’s been eight years since the first film. This is an incredible amount of time between the two productions. Will this mean that this new age is something to look forward to, or should the studio have struck while the iron was hot?
The Croods: A New Age follows on with the Croods still trying to find a home, someplace safe and sound for the pack. The film opens with the pack trying their best to survive from external as well as internal dangers. The external dangers are obvious, dangerous beasts aplenty but the internal dangers are worse.
At least they are in the eyes of the patriarch of the pack. Grug (Nicolas Cage) is worried Eep (Emma Stone) will leave the pack with Guy (Ryan Reynolds) due to their growing relationship. Hoping to find “tomorrow” a promised land his parents told him about Guy wants to bring Eep along with him without the baggage of her pack. When Grug hears this he scrambles quickly to figure out what to do. Thankfully he finds a mysterious wall and brings the pack to show it that this is the tomorrow Guy has spoken of and now the whole family can stay there.
On the other side of this wall is another pack who are known as the Betterman’s. They include Phil (Peter Dinklage), Hope (Leslie Mann) and Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran). They are old family friends of Guy who immediately falls in with these evolved humans. After all, they have tons of food, clean water, they invent and best of all there are no worries when it comes to danger. From here on out though Grug has a new goal, to get his pack away from the Betterman’s and their so-called better life.
In The Croods: A New Age the grass is not greener on the other side
The Croods: A New Age is a lot of fun. It has a lot of the usual tropes of a film where you have one family who is the everyman and they meet their supposed betters and there is a clash of cultures. This film clearly drew inspiration from films like The Great Outdoors with two feuding families whose ideologies clash. The film does its job admirably with making the elder Betterman’s come across as complete and utter idiots who want to throttle over their, in your face, beliefs.
Dinklage and Mann are perfectly cast as these two overbearing supposedly evolved individuals. There is a strange theme going on here though with Leslie Mann. She has played the same overbearing, passive-aggressive mother figure for close to a decade now. It’s like Judd Apatow opened up a floodgate for Mann and she is stuck as this archetype forever.
Newcomer Dawn (Tran) has a great rapport with both Guy and Eep. There is already an established foundation between Guy and Dawn because they grew up together but with Dawn and Eep there is a sisterhood, it’s adorable. I loved these two and their bonding over hating their overbearing fathers and trying to escape their respective caves.
So pretty, so dangerous, so weird
Now on the technical side The Croods: A New Age is stunning. The world is filled with a menagerie of chimaera-like creatures. Every creature you see onscreen is a strange amalgamation of two creatures. My particular favourite shows up in the third act of the film. This behemoth is a beast in design and colour. The film is just full of colour and it’s exploding off the screen. It’s brilliant. This all culminates in the climax of the film and it’s a mania of neon colours and excellent visual storytelling.
Now the writing on the other hand is hit and miss. For every joke that lands there are one or two that don’t. Though there is one running joke that gets progressively funnier as the film goes on. This too culminates in a final joke that made me laugh out loud.
The Croods: A New Age is a great film, flawed but great. With comedy that is okay and a plot that is nothing original, it is saved by its visuals, bonkers characters and a quirky charm that is fun for all ages.
Check it out when it hits cinema screens this Friday and stay tuned to Scannain for more news, reviews and interviews.