The Croods: A New Age (2020)

Despite juvenile humor, elitist Betterman schtick, not even remote anthropological plausibility, and weirdness, Croods 2 is prehistoric fun for the family with committed voice acting & meta-gags + one of the most beautiful animation canvases I’ve seen to-date. 6/10.

Plot Synopsis: Searching for a safer habitat, the prehistoric Crood family discovers an idyllic, walled-in paradise that meets all of its needs. Unfortunately, they must also learn to live with the Bettermans — a family that’s a couple of steps above the Croods on the evolutionary ladder. As tensions between the new neighbors start to rise, a new threat soon propels both clans on an epic adventure that forces them to embrace their differences, draw strength from one another, and survive together.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

7+ Years For A Sequel

Dreamworks’ 2013 Original Got A Much-Needed Pass For The Studio Trying To Compete With Pixar & Hungry Newcomers

Photograph Courtesy Of: Dreamworks Animation Studios

A prehistoric adventure befit with a colorful canvas of resplendent animation, evolution themes, & decent vocal performances by a star-studded cast, The Croods became a bonafide and much-needed hit for Dreamworks in 2013. Pixar has been absolutely dominating the field since the early-2000’s, newcomers like Illumination were making big splashes in childhood audiences [insert Minions-gibberish here], and DW had just as many misfires/disappointments as successes – with every Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, & HTTYD’s memory erased by 2-3+ awful films like Megamind, Turbo, Penguins Of Madagascar, & Rise Of The Guardians – most of them the sole projects of their years. Now, 7+ years later, there’s a sequel – and while it certainly isn’t as ambitious or balanced as the original, it’s a passable follow-up worth the price of admission solely by the tropical talent of its animators. Despite juvenile humor, elitist Betterman schtick, not even remote anthropological-plausibility, and weirdness, Croods 2 is prehistoric fun for the family with committed Stone-led voice acting & decent characterization for its meta-gags – and one of the most beautiful animation canvases of the past few years.

A Continuation & Romance

Picking Up Right Where Its Predecessor Left Off, Croods 2 Begins w. Romance – Rocketed By Committed Reynolds/Stone Vocal-Acts

Photograph Courtesy Of: Dreamworks Animation Studios

Fans of the original will love where it picks up: a direct continuation of the events of the first film like the best sequels do – finally giving the ship audiences wanted back in 2013: Eep & Guy. The vocal performances are very strong all-around – by a capable A-list cast of newcomers from Peter Dinklage to Kelly Marie-Tran to Leslie Mann to the fantastic original cast of the likes of Nicholas Cage, Clark Duke, Cloris Leachman, Emma Stone, and Ryan Reynolds. Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone steal the show in the sequel – playing the perfect lovestruck, [sickeningly]-cutesy teenage couple on-screen. The vocal performance of Stone’s Eep deserves singular recognition and celebration: painting a portraiture of boy-crazy, coming-of-age girls so convincingly, it’s downright-scary at times. The romance also paves way for funny and heartfelt themes like fatherhood coping with the loss of a daddy’s girl and the aggravation of dealing with boytoys coming after your daughter – oh, and having to listen to them tell each other how much they love each other every five seconds. Barf.

The Animation

Croods 2 Boasts One Of The Most Striking & Beautiful Animation Canvases I’ve Ever Seen – Alone Worth The Price Of Admission 2-3X

Photograph Courtesy Of: Dreamworks Animation Studios

While its teenage romance is the star of the screenplay thematically, its animation is the key to the film in everything else. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but: Croods 2 might be one of the most striking and beautiful canvases of animation I’ve ever seen. The first one was vibrant and epic in its natural landscapes, but limited in its textural-mixes and [mediocre] cinematography. A New Age has come with the 7+ years of advancements and technological refinements to the field of animation, plus beneficial work-from-home mandates by the COVID-19 pandemic I guess – because the visuals are positively jaw-dropping to behold. From psychedelic food sequences to tropical jungles to cooling lava pits to primordial white-sand beaches to sunset-pink skies over flower-fields with geysers bursting, it’s near-impossible not to be thoroughly-wowed and appreciate the artistry of the VFX [complete with better shot-constructions and cinematography, just as important as its colors/textures] its team packed into every frame. While the film brings a laundry-list of shortcomings so lengthy, it would’ve easily-failed on any other day – its canvas of animation is so breathtaking, it’s enough to single-handedly lift it into passibility and worthiness of the price of admission alone [or rental, don’t go into theaters in 2020 and risk infection of yourself or others – please].

The Bettermans

A Vexatious Elitism-Thematization & Man-Bun/Flip-Flop Critique Of 2020, Redeemed Eventually But Still Nerve Punch-Monkeying

Photograph Courtesy Of: Dreamworks Animation Studios

The music is also good, with a diverse arrangement of everything from orchestral sequences to classic surf-rock to love synth-pads to Tenacious D [YES, FTW!] by Mark Mothersbaugh. Finally, there’s a mix of genres enough to keep the needle in go-mode: a bizarre meld of horror, comedy, and adventure with enough fast-paced thrills, colorful animation, musical cues, and eventfulness to hold interest – with some decent themes like poking fun at elitism, eulogizing father/daughter relationships, and critiquing modern TV couch-culture through Thunk’s ‘window’ metaphor as well. These are, however, the extents of the pros – and the rest of the film is very bad. The entire concept of The Bettermans makes absolutely no sense: how can a modern family [complete with man-buns, yoga-pants, and flip-flops] exist simultaneously with hominid/cavemen ancestors? As a Biology B.Sc from Emory, the evolutionary timeline of life puts millions of years in-between us and our earliest ancestors the Croods so clearly-represent.. so the entire film is not even remotely anthropologically or evolutionarily feasible/plausible.

The Genre-Mixes

A Bizarre Meld Of Horror, Comedy, & Good Adventure Loaded With Weirdness, But Enough Action & Fast-Paced Thrills To Pass

Photograph Courtesy Of: Dreamworks Animation Studios

Now, I get it’s a kids movie and the entire film is loaded with creatures clearly-indicative of a failure of first grade biology & history [land-sharks, puppy-spiders, punch-monkeys, etc.] not meant to be taken too seriously, but that’s the problem. If you’re doing a kids’ film about science and the evolutionary/historical wonders of life on this earth meant to inspire a curiosity in children that may very well turn some younger audiences towards the fields themselves, as countless of big-ticket movies on the subject have historically and scientifically-proven done from Jurassic Park to Indiana Jones, you should at least be 1% accurate and not irresponsibly present a canvas like this as fact or pseudo-fantasy without direct acknowledgement. Not to mention: The Bettermans are not even good or likable characters; even after they’re humanized, the Taika Waititi-looking, fake-eyelashed soccer mom-look and vexatious personalities of the clan punch-monkey your last-nerve – in ~every single frame of the film.

The Off/On Humorization

Most Of The Humor Is Extremely-Juvenile In Butts, Boogers, & Burps – But Some Of It, Like A TV Couch-Culture Metaphor, Is Good

Photograph Courtesy Of: Dreamworks Animation Studios

The Croods 2 is a downright weird film at times – well, often.. with kitsch like throwing sticks in the eyes that isn’t even funny – and a potentially-dangerous thing to teach children watching who might try to replicate it when they get home [sending themselves or their siblings to the ER.] Finally, the humor is repugnantly-juvenile. Butts, burps, boogers, and boisterous-feet flood the landscape of this movie so deprived of IQ & any semblance of screenwriting-attempt, it’s like a child wrote it [perhaps they did!]. The gags meant for older audiences and which younger ones being targeted throughout the rest of the film likely won’t recognize like Thunk’s ‘window’ TV are wildly-overbelated – being forced to mention the window every single time we see him.. every 2-3 minutes of the film. The humor and most of the dialogue of TC2 [simply] sucks.

Conclusion

A Prehistoric Adventure For The Family

Despite Juvenile Humor, Aggravating Bettermans, & Not Even Remote Anthropological Accuracy, A Kids’ Movie w. Fine Voice-Acting & Beautiful Animation

Photograph Courtesy Of: Dreamworks Animation Studios

Overall, The Croods: A New Age is a mixed blockbuster that passes by the exterior vanity of its breathtaking animation. The humor is extremely juvenile and an evolutionary step down from the first film into butts, boogers, & burps – clearly-targeting its one marketplace and leaving little-extra for anyone above the age of 5 screenplay-wise. Worse: the Betterman’s are aggravatingly-annoying in their elitism and condescension-shtick – not to mention, not even remotely anthropologically/biologically-plausible having a family so evolved, they wear man-buns and flip-flops while knowing every tool that escalated us to the top of the food-chain.. existing concurrently with cavemen. I know the rest of the film screams inaccuracies: they have land-sharks and wolf-spiders for gosh-sakes.. but if you’re going to do a prehistoric animated adventure to introduce kids to scientific wonders of our past/history, you should at least be halfway-accurate, right? The film is very weird too, in some good and some bad ways: sometimes making you stare in awe-terror at the Thundergirls, sometimes making you laugh in its veiled diatribe against modern couch-culture through Thunk’s ‘window’ [metaphorizing TV]. The voice-acting is strong by a cast of all-stars led by a committed performance by Emma Stone convincingly-playing the lovesick teenage girl to a science, and genre-mixes decent in everything from [monkey]-horror to comedy to adventure. The visuals are the star of the show though: animation so crisp, colorful, well-constructed, and beautiful to behold, it’s enough to single-handedly save it: one of the most resplendent animated films I’v seen. Despite juvenile humor, elitist Betterman schtick, not even remote anthropological-plausibility, and weirdness, Croods 2 is prehistoric fun for the family with committed Stone-led voice acting & decent characterization for its meta-gags – and one of the most beautiful animation canvases of the past few years.

Official CLC Score: 6/10