The Croods: A New Age Review

The careful-to-not-get-killed Croods clan is back for another vibrant, hyperactive, and high-strung adventure through pre-history, with stars Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, and Catherine Keener all returning for duty. The Croods: A New Age, while modestly funny at times, still collapses a bit under the weight of animation sequelitis. The result is a warm and fuzzy action-adventure with a bit less heart, and a touch less “oomph,” than the original.Bridging The Croods gap over the past seven years, since the 2013 original, was a four-season Netflix series, and while that show utilized talented voice actors, it’s nice to have Cage, Stone, Reynolds, Keener (plus Clark Duke and Cloris Leachman) back for a proper cinematic follow-up. Not because of their name value (though Reynolds’ stock has risen significantly since the first Croods movie), but because they actually all ping-pong off each other really well.

Cage’s mania mixes excellently with Stone’s squealing glee, and Reynolds is just a gift to action-comedy, in general. His voice work easily carries the two “Merc with a Mouth” Deadpool films he’s headlined, with a ton of his best lines delivered from underneath a full face mask. The chemistry between these particular actors is one of the reasons the first film flew so high.Dreamworks Animation franchises are huge business. From Shrek to Madagascar to Kung Fu Panda to How to Train Your Dragon, the company has created some solid sagas that are enjoyable for all ages. Creatively though, sequels tend to peter out. Not on the action front, but on the emotional stakes level.

The Croods: A New Age has heart, and some feisty new characters, but the story just doesn’t resonate like the original. When it comes to kids/family films, there’s value in colorful calamity and jokes that are clever without having to lean too far into of-the-moment pop culture references, but the more installments you get, the more you feel the studio straining to find ways to keep these money-making characters around.

When we last left The Croods, and Reynolds’ Guy, they were off in search of a new place to call home. In Guy terminology, that place is named “Tomorrow” and it’s what his late parents told him to seek out when he was just a boy. Conflict arises when the traveling pack actually finds a utopia and discovers that the isolated, walled-up paradise is stewarded by Phil and Hope Betterman, voiced by Peter Dinklage and Leslie Mann. This enlightened duo happens to know Guy, from when he was a kid, and start trying to pull the young man away from the crass Croods and pair him off with their teen daughter (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran), right as Guy and Stone’s Eep are head over heels in love with one another and planning a possible future together.The Croods, as a concept, is still a good one. A New Age isn’t a bad time at the multiplex (or, re: 2020, the couch) but it never quite tops or even equals the spark of the first film. Cage is still a blast as the overprotective patriarch, who now must wrap his head around a new life with no dangers (and less familial closeness) while Stone continues to project silly savagery as the very brash and bouncy Eep. Reynolds’ Guy is also still a fun fixture in the mix, obviously, and the additions of Dinklage and Mann weave into the insanity nicely.

With rampaging “kangadillos” and marauding land sharks, the world of The Croods is still worth a visit, if just for the blare and blunder. The story is a little thinner this go-around, but, as mentioned, that’s just part of the machine.

Movie Sequels That Took Forever

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