"The Croods: A New Age," I guess, is harmless fun...that is, unless you decide to go see this in theaters with your family during a global pandemic. It's the follow-up to the 2013 film that no one really asked for, but one that had been kicked around in Hollywood for nearly 7 years before landing at our feet just in time for Thanksgiving (rumor has it, "The Croods: A New Age" will debut on streaming platforms in mid-December but as of now this has not been confirmed).
All of the original voice-stars and characters return: There is the prehistoric head of the family, Grug (Nicholas Cage), his wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), the simple-minded Thunk (Clark Duke), the animalistic toddler Sandy, the nearly-but-not-yet dead Gran (Cloris Leachman) and their rambunctious, rebellious daughter, Eep (Emma Stone). She is still crushing hard on the newest member of their pack, Guy (Ryan Reynolds), whom they met in the last film and who is leading them to a magical far-off place called "Tomorrow."
With Eep and Guy madly in love, the family is barely surviving out in the wilderness of the Stone Age. But they come across an Eden of sorts, full of lush gardens and flowing rivers, and all the bananas they could ever want to eat...this paradise is the home of the Betterman clan, who have ties to Guy's past. There is Phil Betterman (Peter Dinklage), who looks and acts like a West Coast yoga instructor, his wife Hope (Leslie Mann) and their daughter, Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran). Hijinx ensues.
Much like the first "Croods," the humor is passable and the cleverness fleeting. It never breaks-out as anything extra-special but manages to rise above most other straight-to-streaming animated gunk that you might come across. The animation is clean and bright, and it's fast-paced enough for young kids to stay engaged. Also like the original film, it features some sequences that might be borderline scary for very small children, thus its "PG" rating. And adults will not find the task of watching it overly dubious.
None of this is exactly high-praise. "The Croods: A New Age," released at a different time, might have been a massive blockbuster follow-up...the original brought in a surprising 587 million at the box office after all. But released during a pandemic at a time where cases and deaths are rising all over the country, it seems very odd indeed that this movie wasn't sent to streaming like many of the other family films before it in 2020, from "Trolls World Tour" to "Scoob," or delayed entirely like the new "SpongeBob" movie. Especially when it's rumored to be coming to streaming in only a matter of weeks, I find it a prehistoric idea indeed, that this movie was given the green light at this time.
This isn't a film worth braving the pandemic for, not that any film is. So beyond why they made this mediocre sequel seven years after the original at all, the bigger question facing "The Croods: A New Age" is so simple a caveman could comprehend asking it:
Genre: Animation, Family, Adventure.
Run Time: 1 hour 35 minutes.
Starring (voices of): Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Nicholas Cage, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Leslie Mann, Peter Dinklage, Kelly Marie Tran.
Directed by Joel Crawford (feature-film directorial debut).
"The Croods: A New Age" is being released theatrically on Wednesday, November 25th, 2020 and on digital platforms TBD.
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