Feels like another ice age has rolled in since Dreamworks’ The Croods hit theaters back in 2013. The caveman comedy didn’t reach the critical or financial heights of Kung Fu Panda or How to Train Your Dragon, but it was an enjoyable romp through a prehistoric wonderland.
Seven years later, Dreamworks has finally gotten around to releasing a sequel, The Croods: A New Age. While almost all the original voice actors are back, co-directors Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco have been replaced by newcomer Joel Crawford though the duo does receive a story credit.
To recap, the Croods are a stone age family who must overcome their fears and venture out of the confinements of their dank cave. Burly Grug (Nicolas Cage) is the patriarch of the family and his hot-headed demeanor is tempered by wife Ugga (Catherine Keener). They are parents to teenager Eep (Emma Stone), dim-witted Thunk (Clark Duke), and feral Sandy (Kailey Crawford). Ugga’s cantankerous mother Gran (the late-Cloris Leachman) tags along for the ride and is a constant thorn in Grug’s side. The Crood family are assisted in their quest for a new home by Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a forward thinking young man who lost his parents in a tar pit.
A New Age picks up with Guy and Eep’s romance blossoming, much to the dismay of Grug, who is desperate to keep his family unit just the way it’s always been. This becomes less tenable when the Croods meet the Bettermans, old friends of Guy’s parents, who’ve built their own gated community to protect themselves from the dangers around them. If the Flintstones were the blue-collar schomes, then the Bettermans are their upper-class, hippie-dippie counterparts who live in the ritzier part of town. Phil (Peter Dinklage) sports a man bun and a condescending attitude while his wife Hope (Leslie Mann) could be considered history’s first ever “Karen.” They don’t take kindly to the Croods…well, crude behavior and are looking to fix up Guy with their own daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran).
The sequel may not be the most original movie, but there’s a constant energy and vibrance starting with a wild chase scene during the opening credits set to “I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family. The flora and fauna of the Croods’ world seemed to have sprung from the mind of a six year old jacked up on juice boxes. The animals are bizarre mash-ups like vicious kangadillos, screaming chicken seals, wolf spiders, and land sharks. However, no form of wildlife could be as bizarre as Nicolas Cage. Even in animated form, Cage manages to bring his own unique performance to the proceedings.
The most surprising and pleasing element of A New Age is its message of female friendship and empowerment. The filmmakers admitted that earlier drafts of the script spotlighted a catty relationship between Eep and Dawn as they fought for Guy’s affections. Thankfully, the story went in a more positive and not so banal direction. Eep and Dawn become instant BFFs with neither having ever met a female their own age before. The movie even finds a way to pay homage to King Kong and reverse the trope by forcing the women to band together to rescue the men.
The video is presented in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Picture quality is flawless with eye popping colors. Think of the landscape like a psychedelic, sugar-coated version of Avatar. The transfer also does justice to finer details such as the stubble on Grug’s face and the textures of the characters’ fur clothing.
The audio is presented in Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1. Sound quality is really well done, especially during the chaotic action sequences when everyone is stampeding across the screen.
Dear Diary: World’s First Pranks (2:54) is a 2D short following Eep and Dawn as they pull practical jokes on their respective families.
Family Movie Night: Little Red Bronana Bread (3:39) is done in the style of a shadow puppet show as Dawn spins her own version of the classic fairy tale.
To: Gerard (7:32) is a cute animated short about a mail clerk who teaches a young girl some sleight of hand magic tricks.
The Croods’ Family Album (8:24) takes a look at the actors and their work inside the recording booth.
The Evolution of… (10:17) is the standard behind-the-scenes featurette focusing on how they put together the sequel.
How to Draw: Caveman Style is a collection of tutorials with artist Heidi Jo Gilbert as she shows you step-by-step how to doodle all of your favorite characters.
Famileaf Album (2:58) is another family activity showing kids how to make a picture album using leaves and/or construction paper.
Stone Age Snack Attack are three recipes that allow the audience to replicate the delicious treats seen in the film.
Rounding out the bonus features are a collection of deleted scenes, a Gag Reel (1:51), and an audio commentary track with director Joel Crawford, producer Mark Swift, head of story Januel Mercado and editor Jim Ryan.
Film Value: 7
The Croods: A New Age isn’t the type of animated feature that will knock Pixar off its pedestal. It will manage to entertain family and friends for an hour and a half. Dreamworks has put out a fun, garishly colored romp. That’s more than enough during these troublesome times.