Review by Sean Boelman
The Croods (left) meet The Bettermans (right) in DreamWorks Animation's The Croods: A New Age, directed by Joel Crawford. The Croods (from left): Thunk (Clark Duke), Gran (Cloris Leachman), Sandy (Kailey Crawford), Grug (Nicolas Cage), Ugga (Catherine Keener) and Eep (Emma Stone). The Bettermans (from near right): Phil (Peter Dinklage) and Hope (Leslie Mann). Photo Credit: DreamWorks Animation LLC.
On top of all of the other challenges it faces, The Croods: A New Age also must deal with the fact that it is coming out seven years after its predecessor, meaning that a majority of its target audience has already aged out. Still, thanks to a charming voice cast and some legitimately funny gags, this manages to be a very enjoyable family film.
The movie follows the eponymous neanderthal family as they find their original way of life changing, then meet a more evolved family who threatens to bring their world crashing down. This conflict between old and new is nothing particularly original, but applying it to this cavemen versus civilization set-up provides for some great comedic hijinks.
Admittedly, this may not be as deep or substantial as some other animated movies aimed at younger audiences, but there’s still a very good message about growing up and growing into oneself. Yes, this is buried beneath layer upon layer of physical comedy, but it’s pretty heartwarming at its core.
For much of the first two-thirds, the film is playful and goody, showing the Croods and Bettermans competing and trying to outwit each other, and this is where a majority of the movie’s most successful moments come. When a more firm action-oriented plot begins to kick in during the final third, the cadence of the jokes slows down quite a bit.
Rather than expanding upon the dynamic between the existing characters, the film mostly focuses on the leads and new characters. Ugga, Gran, and Thunk are all relegated to the sideline as the writers obviously take more of an interest in the stories of Eep, Guy, Grug, and the Bettermans.
New additions to the voice cast include Peter Dinklage and Leslie Mann, both of whom are quite funny, and Kelly Marie Tran, who is extremely underused. As for the returning cast, they are all still great even though many of them have become significantly more popular since 2013, and they are clearly having a lot of fun in their roles.
The animation of the movie is very good, with even more of an investment put into world-building. It’s a colorful, energetic animated film, which will catch the eye of younger viewers, and the wit of the script will keep their adult companions entertained. The soundtrack is also wonderful, including a great cover of “I Think I Love You” from Tenacious D.
It took quite a while for The Croods: A New Age to make its way to the screen, but it turns out that it may have been worth the wait. Funny and energetically animated, this is a lot more enjoyable than anyone would have expected.
The Croods: A New Age opens in theaters on November 25.