The appearance of The Croods: A New Age must rank very high on the list of innumerable oddities that have occurred in 2020. The first Croods movie, which debuted over eight years ago and had a respectable enough impact at the box office (mainly abroad), to inspire this protracted sequel. However, unlike the other DreamWorks Animation film from 2020, Trolls World Tour, A New Age won’t be available for immediate rental on VOD. No, if you and your family are simply hankering for some fresh entertainment during the holiday weekend, you’ll have to visit the movies in the midst of rapidly increasing pandemic cases. 1984’s Wonder Woman This Christmas, it will be accessible on HBO Max the same day it opens in theatres. Soul? Just go directly to Disney+ streaming.
No, you should rush to the theatre to see The Croods: A New Age. There isn’t really a good reason for you to, though.
Even if the pandemic didn’t exist, the second generation of cockroaches would be perplexing. Despite its moderate popularity, the first movie is perhaps so misunderstood that the sequel had to begin with one of its characters catching us up on the story. The Crood family spent the whole of the first movie looking for Tomorrow, a mythical location that would serve as a refuge from various horrific animals that wish to wipe out these cave humans.
In that movie, Eep (voiced by Emma Stone), the oldest Crood child, fell in love with Guy (Ryan Reynolds), much to her father Grug’s dismay (Nicolas Cage). Everything has now improved as the family succeeds in achieving its aim. They discover Tomorrow early on in the New Age, and at first glance, it truly seems like utopia—a place free from predator attacks and other mortal dangers. The Betterman family, the other human family the Croods encounter, epitomises perfection, which is difficult for the Croods to accept. The rude and snobbish Betterman parents (Peter Dinklage and Leslie Mann) try to get Guy to hook up with their daughter (Kelly Marie Tran) instead of them while appearing disdainful of the more primitive Croods.
The fact that The Croods: A New Age
The reason it strikes us as so odd is that it reminds us of how recently DreamWorks Animation felt like a real threat to Pixar Animation Studios’ hegemony in computer animation. Despite the pandemic, DWA has had a difficult few years. Movies like Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Home, and Turboall fared poorly at the box office and did not establish insta-franchises in the same way that Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, and Shrek did. DreamWorks Animation now mostly creates TV adaptations of the blockbuster movies. (The Croods is no different; between the two films, a four-season television series was aired on Netflix.) These kind of forgettable TV shows, many of which are used to divert young children for 20 minutes at a time, are preferable to The Croods: A New Age. However, it’s scarcely improved (and for full transparency, this writer received a digital screener viewed in the safety of his own home).
The main cause of A New Age’s profound lack of inspiration is easy to pinpoint. Chris Sanders, who also co-wrote and co-directed the original movie versions of Lilo & Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon, is solely listed in the credits for this movie as a co-story writer. These movies have a certain charm that Sanders’ anarchic attitude greatly lacks in this one. When the animating team is coming up with unique methods to portray the neon-hued Tomorrow, a New Age is at its most striking visually. (If there is any good reason to watch this on a large screen as opposed to your HDTV, it would be to view the majority of the photographs. Still not a very good justification.) In order to fill out a feature-length running time, the tale blends the oldest Flintstones-style clichés and is pretty formulaic. Will Guy and Eep ever get along? Or will Guy’s entire personality change as a result of the Bettermans’ influence? Will Grug discover how to coexist with the Bettermans? Keep your lack of surprise at the results in check.
The only other major highlight of The Croods: A New Age, aside from the animation, is the undeniable demonstration of Nicolas Cage’s ability to be wonderfully bonkers in a cartoon setting. Grug, the family’s patriarch, is constantly annoyed by how easily everyone seems to fit into Tomorrow while still wanting to keep the family together. Without ever sounding like they’re even trying to match Cage’s intensity, the rest of the voice cast does nicely. However, how could they?
The Croods: A New Ageis merely going through the motions; it completes the minimal tasks necessary to produce a computer-animated film. Even in an odd year like this one, it’s strange to celebrate Thanksgiving in this manner. This will probably end out on VOD in about three weeks (and definitely on Peacock in three months), given the distribution agreement that Universal Pictures, which currently distributes DreamWorks Animation films, has with major theatre chains. The Croods: A New Agewill satiate the fundamental desire to watch something novel for the desperate, those who simply cannot contemplate not going to the theatre this Christmas season.
However, at this time, it is only appropriate to champion truly exceptional cinema. This isn’t it, either.