The Croods A New Age review: Too many good ideas jostle for space in crowded movie

screenmixSeptember 10, 2021

The Croods: A New Age movie director: Joel Crawford
The Croods: A New Age voice cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Nicolas Cage, Catherine Keener, Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann, Cloris Leachman, Kelley Marie Tran
The Croods: A New Age movie rating: 2.5 stars

There are a lot of good ideas jostling about in The Croods: A New Age. That different isn’t necessarily bad. That both brawn and brain have their place. That two girls and one boy need not always make a triangle. That girls can have muscle and scars — and be the envy of others. That somehow the more walls we build, the more insecure we feel. That there need not be villains to make one a hero. And that most people, when they realise a wrong has been done, are willing to say sorry.

The problem is, there are just too many things jostling about in The Croods, coming eight years after the original. That, of course, is just a nanosecond in the planet’s history, especially in the caveman age in which the film is set, and hence we find ourselves back where the first film ended. But where director Crawford could have had a winner, in addressing issues that remain as mundane now, as (not likely) then, A New Age keeps falling back on “adventures” more pertinent to those survival-of-the-fittest times.

From monsters, monkeys, mites to moths, the so-called dangers tripping up the indomitable Croods and the others, moreover, have not a touch of reality to them. No effort or research has gone into recreating that world. Instead, everything is just a riot of neon colours — as much a pain to the eyes as the resultant loud encounters are to the ears. Someone appears to have a curious fetish for bananas too, with a whole lot of slippery time spent on them.

In its quieter moments, A New Age has some heart winning voiceovers by Stone as Eep, Reynolds as Guy, Cage as Grug, Keener as Ugga — reprising their roles from the first film — and, particularly, Dinklage and Mann as the hippie, floater-man bun-vanilla essence wearing version of prehistoric humans.

The latter two are the Bettermans, who have made an oasis for themselves and their daughter amidst that wild world, and enclosed it within walls to keep out “dangers”. The building of that oasis is no mean task, involving all of Phil’s (Dinklage) and Hope’s (Mann) ingenuity. They have showers, compost bins, sinks, commodes, makeshift lifts, rooms, “privacy” and “individuality” — all concepts that are alien to the Croods. When the Croods come crashing into their world, literally, who will influence whom?

In their love for their daughters and desire to “protect” them and hold onto them, Grug and Phil are no different from each other.

But it’s obvious long before the film itself comes around to this discovery.