After eight years (probably hiding in caves), the Croods return neither older looking or none the wiser, but certainly hungrier than before in this second outing. It is a mix of rumbling tums and teenage hormones that kick-start this latest wild adventure for the oddball pack who are still sleeping as a ball of bodies and searching for a better place to live – preferably one that means they can stay alive for longer than a day.
Studio DreamWorks Animation understands that its young fans of the 2013 film are now teenagers and young adults, and as whacky and super-charged for kids as this colourful offering is, it is also stuffed full of teen concerns and parental nods to tedious adolescent behaviour (for example, Trunk’s ‘window’ time) to keep everyone entertained and highly amused this summer break.
Returning Croods cast members Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke and Cloris Leachman as fearless Gran are joined by new voice stars Peter Dinklage, Leslie Man and Kelly Marie Tran as the Bettermans, a patronising and less than perfect version of Stone Age hipsters who have no choice but to welcome their ravenous new guests after they crash their ‘paradise’ filled with food and new-age contraptions. There is a connection between mongrel Guy (voiced by Reynolds) and this new chic unit, which puts his beloved Eep’s (Stone) nose out of joint when new teenage girl Dawn Betterman (Tran) comes on the scene.
In the meantime, by keeping the plot simple and slowing down the pace for a split second to focus on a character’s thoughts, you get to enjoy the thrilling family rivalry, snobbery, rebellion and subsequent whistle-blowing that commences, before both sides reluctantly unite to solve a common whopper of a problem. It is a total hoot to watch the Bettermans’ facade crumble as they learn some real civility. This especially rings true in real-life as there is always a family nearby that likes to think it’s better than the rest of us at times. There is also the blatant and frankly delicious dig at those who claim to be environmentally friendly and preach about clean living, but actually are far from it.
To be honest, as an adult, the rivalry is the most enjoyable part, but like all family-centric flicks, there has to be harmony reached in the end, along with lessons learned. A running joke from the first film that involves apes resurfaces here with comical effect. It is nicely set up and provides the necessary bonding time for both sides. It also triggers gravity-defying action sequences that are nothing more than thrilling for youngsters to watch.
There are subplots like Eep and Dawn’s blossoming ‘girl power’ relationship, or the Bettermans’ dirty trash secret that could have been given more air-time, but this would have bloated the zippy 96-minute run-time. As the story brings up so many interesting observations, these can be reserved for a later return date with the clan.
As it stands, The Croods 2: A New Age is a near perfect family pick of sheer, silly escapism at this moment in time, watching a fictitious family save the day and live a COVID-free existence. Just don’t touch the bananas…