The Croods: A New Age review (2021) – a bizarre DreamWorks gem

A chaotic, almost surreal sequel to DreamWorks’ 2013 prehistoric animated movie, here is something that’ll leave you sitting in your seat feeling completely baffled by what you just witnessed – and not necessarily in a bad way. The Croods: A New Age knows exactly what it is trying to be – a fun (if predictable) kids movie full of humour, adventure, and colourful creatures. It’s a film that doesn’t pretend to be a masterpiece but instead leans into its whiplash-inducing storytelling, all its strange but brilliantly stupid gags, and a bizarre display of caveman logic.

Eight years ago, we were introduced to The Croods, a family of cavemen who were searching for a new home. The main gist of the original film was the conflict between the overprotective father, Grug (Nicolas Cage), and his rebellious teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone) as they clash over Eep’s crush Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a newcomer. At its heart, the movie was about overcoming prejudice in a vibrant, magnificent, deadly ancient world.

Directed by Joel Crawford (Trolls Holiday), The Croods: A New Age is a more streamlined and engaging movie than its fragmented predecessor, which picks up more-or-less where the story left off. It expands on Guy’s and Eep’s teenage romance, and shows the mad family continuing their search for a safe place to settle down. However, during their travels, they encounter a highly evolved family, the Bettermans – who are also revealed to be the long-lost friends of Guy’s deceased parents.

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The Bettermans (emphasis on the ‘better’ part) are a family of the future; they have discovered agriculture, indoor plumbing, and even shoes. Multiple jokes about the complexity of modern life follow, like gags about how a toilet works or how addictive watching the ‘window box’ can be. However, the family doesn’t just exist for technology jokes, the Bettermans are neatly tied into the Croods storyline, with their connection with Guy, and juicy tension between the two families is seamlessly crafted as a result. Clashes and funny passive-aggressive antics ensue, leaving Guy to choose between his past, or his potential future with Eep.

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The Croods: A New Age has the same themes seen in the first movie. It’s all about overcoming prejudice and working through your differences. It is nothing new plot-wise, and the characters appear at times to be stereotypes with little depth, purely existing as narrative devices, and walking punchlines. However, its simplicity, and focus on weird, blatant humour has a strange charm to it. As soon as the story reaches its climax the movie finds its stride, and becomes bananas – literally.

The character situations are bizarre, and the straightforward plot becomes laced with pop culture references, one-liners, and ridiculously funny scenes. After complications with bananas, Grug, Phil Betterman (Peter Dinklage), and Guy are abducted by punching monkeys, eventually facing off against a giant baboon monster. The women band together, and turn into Conan the Barbarian-esque warriors with their own ‘80s power metal theme song, ready to save the day. All these events seem to move at lightning speed, and it can be hard to parse what is actually happening. The film is like watching a rollercoaster ride; it’s wildly entertaining, and its humour manages to hit the mark, being legitimately funny through the surrealism.

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The Croods: A New Age is also visually stunning. Yes, the character designs of the Neanderthals are still unsettling, but besides the large foreheads and disproportionate eyes, everything else looks fantastic. The film captures the sense of adventure through its art, sparking imagination with unique hybrid animals, and wacky-looking plants. The voice acting is also stellar all-round, with the cast of A-listers embodying the basic characters beautifully.

All in all, the movie is immensely fun, a fast-paced and wild sequel that blows the original out of the water. Although some may find its plot to be too generic, or unable to fully get the chaotic humour, it stands as a solid family film as well as a delightfully silly viewing experience.

The Croods: A New Age will release in cinemas across the UK on July 16.

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Emma-Jane Betts

Staff Writer

Updated: Jul 14, 2021


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Croods: A New Age

Doesn’t pretend to be a masterpiece but instead leans into its whiplash-inducing storytelling, all its strange but brilliantly stupid gags, and a bizarre display of caveman logic.

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