“The Croods: A New Age” is directed by Joel Crawford, who has been involved as a story artist for several DreamWorks films including “Kung Fu Panda,” “Shrek Forever After,” and “Rise of the Guardians.” This film is his feature-length debut and stars Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man, La La Land), Nicolas Cage (Raising Arizona, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Hitman’s Bodyguard), Peter Dinklage (Avengers: Infinity War, Game of Thrones), Leslie Mann (Blockers, Welcome to Marwen), and Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Adam Ruins Everything).
The long-awaited sequel to 2013’s “The Croods” centers around a family living in pre-historic times. They may have left the cave, but their journey is not over yet. In this movie, the Croods meet the Bettermans, a family who claims to be more evolved than those of the titular name.
I liked “The Croods” when I first saw it, but much like “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Suicide Squad” it is one of those movies that I had fun watching in the theater, but quickly began to like less upon thinking about it more, not to mention a rewatch. To this day, other than maybe “Shrek Forever After,” “The Croods” may be my least favorite DreamWorks animation. Granted, I have missed some of the recent ones like “Trolls,” “Trolls: World Tour,” “The Boss Baby,” and “Abominable.” But I figured since there is very little to talk about in the movie world right now, I am willing to go see “The Croods: A New Age,” even if it wrecks my brain.
I will also be fair to the first movie, because even though the story and characters do not serve much for my memory, I do remember the movie looking stunning at times. It is one of the more attractive-looking DreamWorks films I’ve seen, and when it comes to color, it pops. But contrary to what Deadpool says, looks are not everything.
So how does “The Croods: A New Age” compare to its 2013 counterpart? Admittedly I cannot give a full confirmation as it has been awhile since I have seen that 2013 counterpart, but there are elements of this sequel that I think fare slightly better than the original, but not by much. The first “Croods” tries to be grand, and it succeeds at times, but there are also moments of that film where looking back I kind of roll my eyes. “A New Age” does an alright job with moving everything along in terms of characterization, but focuses much more of its time to cracking jokes that don’t always land or having big action just for the sake of keeping our eyes on the screen. Keeping our eyes on the screen is not a bad thing, but as I kept my eyes on the screen, I felt like I was witnessing another example of the style over substance problem. It’s a common thing I have seen out of a recent “Transformers” or Zack Snyder movie for example. The story could be interesting, but it occasionally takes a backseat for visuals. This is not always a negative, as “The Croods: A New Age” provides plenty of pretty visuals. However, when it comes to family animations, this is not one I would watch for plot or characters. I would probably put it on my TV as a test movie. I will say though, if you and your family need an excuse to get out of the house for Thanksgiving, maybe avoid some crazy in-laws who won’t shut up about politics, I will say that this movie, in terms of visuals, may be worth the IMAX price. I saw “The Croods: A New Age” in IMAX, and the presentation was better compared to a lot of movies I’ve seen this year.
I will say, one of the standouts of this movie is the dad, otherwise known as Grug. Much like in the first movie, Grug is voiced by Nicolas Cage, and I have to say, when it comes to how Grug is written occasionally, it feels like the voiceover role Cage was born to do. There’s a lot of over the top expression, zaniness, and hyperactive speech patterns that associate with the actor quite well. He also had a rather hypnotizing portion of his screentime dedicated to wanting bananas. The movie goes balls out with that story and executes it better than I would have imagined.
I also think when it comes to Eep and Guy, they have really good chemistry. Once again, it has been forever since I’ve watched the first movie, but I do remember their relationship being a highlight in that project as well. I think Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds are fine casting choices for their roles and it’s nice to see Stone continuing her tradition, not only in “The Croods,” but in “Gangster Squad” and “La La Land” of getting it on with boy toy Canadians named Ryan.
“The Croods: A New Age” introduces some previously unseen characters along the way. Specifically, much of this revolves around the Bettermans, a more evolved family living over a wall that separates the Croods’ land and what they view as the place of “Tomorrow.” I will say, first off, could they have chosen any other last name? One of the first lines out of Leslie Mann’s character is “emphasis on the ‘Better,'” in reference to her last name. I get the point, but this honestly makes the movie feel like it is talking down to its viewers. And yes, young children are watching this movie. And if I were a kid watching this movie, I’d end up having a good time. But I don’t need facts like this shoved in my face when I could use my head like an intellectual.
With that rant over, let’s talk about the Bettermans. I think the Bettermans are a fairly fascinating depiction of how humans have evolved. They show off their “better” ways of doing things, such as their versions of elevators, toilets, sleep, and so on. Sometimes it made for fun parts of the movie.
Oh yeah, apparently they have a merchandisable sloth too.
I’m not gonna lie, I do not think the sloth from the first movie is as funny as they’re trying to make it out to be. It’s kind of like the Chicken from “Moana,” one of the most overhyped animations I’ve seen in recent years.
I do not have much more to say about “The Croods: A New Age,” but I have extremely conflicting feelings about the climax. I say so because the climax has many of the essentials needed. It is exciting, action-packed, visually stunning, and intense. But it kept going on forever. Although I might be exaggerating because it just so turns out that it didn’t. “The Croods: A New Age” is 95 minutes long. That is four minutes shorter than the original film. Looking back, it feels as if the first two acts were short pieces of buildup, but they just wanted to inject as much action and adventure as possible by the halfway point that the movie felt like it could end at one moment, but it instead goes on. This feels like “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” except that instead of not knowing when to conclude, it didn’t know when to get to the actual conclusive point to begin with. I love fast-paced, balls to the wall thrill rides, but “The Croods: A New Age” comes with the unfortunate disadvantage that it does not really give me much time to breathe.
I was never bored by “The Croods: A New Age,” and that is an absolute positive, but this film was like an overpowered roller-coaster. It’s exciting, it’s thrilling, but sometimes discombobulating. You’re in the moment, but you also want it to end. If cinemas are open near you, and you plan to see “The Croods: A New Age” in theaters, go for the most immersive experience possible. But sometimes it gets a little TOO exciting, at least for me.
In the end, “The Croods: A New Age” is not the worst animated movie of 2020, but it is by no means the best. It is definitely fun if you have a family. Kids might end up enjoying it. If you were satisfied with the first film, chances are you might end up digging this one. I think the Betterman family was a fine addition character-wise, but I do not see myself popping on this movie again in the near future. I am going to give “The Croods: A New Age” a 6/10.
I will also say that I stayed for the end credits, because I wanted to know if there is an after credits scene. By the way, there is not. But I noticed the special thanks section and they thanked the entire crew that pulled the film off, despite the challenges of 2020. I thought that was a nice sentiment and I would not be surprised if I see that statement in more movies going forward. Statements that reflect on the tough time to get a movie going, but they managed to pull it off in the end.
“The Croods: A New Age” is now playing in CinemaSafe theatres. It is available in 2D, 3D, IMAX, and other large formats such as Dolby Cinema and Cinemark XD. The film will hit premium VOD services including Google Play, VUDU, and cable options like Xfinity On Demand on December 25th as Universal is observing a shortened theatrical window.
Thanks for reading this review! This weekend I am going to be watching and reviewing the all new HBO Max film “Superintelligence” starring Melissa McCarthy. “Superintelligence” may be in my top 3 least anticipated films of the year, but I have a job to do. So here we go! It is my obligation to risk brain damage this weekend! Yeehaw! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Croods: A New Age?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite animation of 2020? For me, that’s an easy choice. “Over the Moon.” I cannot stop listening to the soundtrack right now! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!