The Croods: A New Age - Reviewed By Movies Zilizotafsiliwa Kiswahili

The Croods surprised me.  I sat down with it thinking it was going to be just okay but ended up finding a movie that was a lot of fun.  I honestly didn’t think a sequel was ever going to be made because it kinda felt like a one-and-done type of film but 2020 surprised me with The Croods:  A New Age.  Like so many movies, this one got the on-demand treatment because it still isn’t safe to hit the theaters.  After watching Wonder Woman 1984 and Soul on Christmas, my family and I decided to check this one out too…and it was a resounding smash with us!  

The Croods; Grug (Nicolas Cage), Ugga (Catherine Keener), Thunk (Clarke Duke), Gran (Cloris Leachman), Eep (Emma Stone), Sandy (Kailey Crawford), and Eep’s boyfriend Guy (Ryan Reynolds) are on the search for a place to settle down at.  One day, they discover a giant wall and inside they find a paradise full of food.  However, it turns out that some people already live there; a seemingly more evolved group of humans named the Bettermans.  The Bettermans; Phil (Peter Dinklage), Hope (Leslie Mann) and their daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran), agree to take in the Croods and Guy because they knew Guy’s parents.  However, it isn’t long before Grug and Ugga start to become annoyed with the Bettermans as they have a habit of talking down to them.  It isn’t long before they are at each other’s throats, but they soon find an even larger threat is looming on the horizon after Grug eats all of the bananas in the area…bananas that Phil uses to appease a monster that resides outside the walls.

To put it simply, The Croods:  A New Age is ridiculously fun and incredibly amusing.  This sequel builds terrifically off the first film and doesn’t feel like it is just trying to do the same thing all over again.  Instead, the film feels like it is building off the first film, providing a new adventure, and expanding the world that the Croods and Guy exist in.  The film also has this great balance of humor where it is funny for the whole family.  It’s got jokes that are geared more towards the older crowd (but not like lewd stuff) as it plays off of 80s new wave and hair metal music and it has the slapstick silliness that will get the kids going—but these jokes never come off like empty, dumb gags to get the kids giggling because even these moments are really funny.  Again, like the first one, this movie proved to be a very pleasant and entertaining surprise…one that I even thought surpassed the previous film.

Like the first one, the animation and designs are fantastic.  The film has loads of new and amusing creatures, the locations are incredibly detailed and vibrant, and the character animations look amazing.  All in all, this film just looked awesome and brings to life a world that is both gorgeous to look at and is ripe for an exciting adventure and silly moments. 

Helping bring to life this colorful and amusing world is a top-notch voice acting cast.  The returning players like Cage, Keener, Duke, Stone, Leachman, and Reynolds are all doing an amazing job at making their characters fun and endearing.  The same level they brought in the last film is match and even surpassed.  The new players like Dinklage, Mann, and Tran (you kinda ruined the potential for some rhymes there Dinklage) all do a fantastic job.  Dinklage and Mann were exceptional as the “elitist” and more evolved humans who make their passive aggressive and arrogant nature more amusing than annoying.  They did these parts at just the right level where you want to see them become better and less judge-y.  These characters could have easily just been terribly people, but they got them so perfectly.

Plain and simple, I had a lot of fun watching The Croods:  A New Age.  The story sucked me in immediately, the animation and designs look amazing, and the cast is a lot of fun.  Also, this movie is ridiculously funny.  So funny that there are moments where my family and I rewound it just to see these moments again.  The first one was a surprise and, honestly, this one was a bit too.  I didn’t expect anything bad, but I didn’t expect something this good and this fun.  I really enjoyed this movie.

After watching The Croods in preparation for this review, we were a little surprised by the decision to produce a sequel. While it was visually very impressive and had a strong theme of ‘family sticks together’, there really wasn’t much of a storyline.

The Croods are a family of cave-people, who just try to survive each day. Father Grug (Nicholas Cage) protects his family from all the dangers that the world throws at them, and regularly cautions his family not to do anything new or different, because everything adventurous can lead to death. But his daughter Eep (Emma Stone) feels trapped and longs to explore the world. Sneaking out one night she meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a young man who is completely alone, yet searching for tomorrow.

By the end of The Croods they had all travelled to safety away from the impeding dangers of tectonic shifts, and were finally in a place where they could ‘follow the light and find tomorrow’. That was just one of numerous illogical ideas in the movie.

So, in a turnaround of the usual scenario, we were pleased to discover that the second movie is better than the first. The Croods are still searching for a good place to live, and enough food to eat. Eep and Guy are in love and considering what it might mean to be together, just the two of them. Grug however is desperate to keep the family together. Grug happens upon a wall, and when he breaks through discovers crops and ample food all owned by the Betterman family. It turns out that Phil and Hope were close friends of Guy’s parents, and they are thrilled to have Guy back, especially as he makes such an obvious partner for their daughter Dawn. It did seem a little odd for a movie, presumably aimed at under 10s, to make teen love, with parents trying to set it up, a key focus. And some humour was clearly for adults, with references to man-caves, and being passive aggressive.

After that, the story goes a little haywire and changes tack quite dramatically as the men are captured by Punch Monkeys and the women have to come to their rescue.

Some things we appreciated were:
The imagery is striking, with bold colours, imaginative creatures and creative landscapes. It feels like a technicolour Dr Seuss world. Nothing is quite the same as our world, but much is still recognisable, such as the wolf spiders: fluffy wolves complete with 8 legs and eyes, and spinnerets.
Dawn seems to have no idea that her parents are trying to set her up with Guy and no romantic interest in him. She is just keen to be friends with Eep. Eep and Dawn realise how much they have in common, and are both excited to finally have some company their own age. 
There were very few negative body image messages at all. How anyone looked was not really referred to, which is refreshing. In fact, Dawn is envious of Eep’s numerous scars from the dangers she has encountered. 
The strong family theme was again evident. Both fathers wanted what they thought was best for their children, and tried to get it, even if later it made them realise they had been “two profoundly foolish fathers”. 
In the end, the Bettermans and the Croods were able to look beyond their surface differences to find their common humanity. And a final happy medium was found with the families choosing to stay and live together, but Eep and Guy also able to explore the world on their own.