Cert – U, Run-time – 1 hour 36 minutes, Director – Joel Crawford
When it seems that the family may be on the verge of splitting up Stone Age family The Croods encounter the more advanced Bettermans.
The Croods does for prehistoric animal hybrids what Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs did for food monsters. Throughout this return trip to the world’s first family – the first all the way back in 2013 – we witness the likes of chicken-seals, moomoths and punch monkeys. All well animated and broadening the often colourful, imaginative nature of the Stone Age world which is being created. However, the Stone Age is perhaps close to an end as the pack encounter the more advanced Bettermans. With odd contraptions such as mirrors, man-caves and sandals there truly seems to be “emphasis on the ‘Better'”.
Despite the idyllic life in the safe confines of a towering wall, father Grug (Nicolas Cage) finds it difficult to get on with this new way of living. Preferring to still sleep in a pile with his family instead of in whatever a ‘bed’ is. His family’s acceptance of this style of living is further proof to him that the pack is breaking up. He overhears daughter Eep (Emma Stone) discussing with partner Guy (Ryan Reynolds) the idea of them starting their own life together, away from the family – something which is somewhat encouraged by Phil Betterman (Peter Dinklage) and wife Hope (Leslie Mann), but with the prospect of old family friend Guy getting to know their daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran) better.
It’s all rather simplistic and yet it seems to barely last any time. It feels as if the team of writers stretched this idea as far as possible before realising something else was needed and adding it as an almost second short film to boost what they had over the 60 minute mark, let along the 90 minute one. Going from jumping from scene to scene with little room for things to breathe to the film almost feeling as if it’s pandering for time. Offering repetitive jokes – it seems that Crood son Thunk (Clark Duke) has little more to do than be obsessed with the phenomenon of ‘Window’; a recurring joke, which essentially becomes the character’s personality, about TV-addicted kids. As this gag is displayed more and more times the film as a whole simply begins to feel increasingly tired and disengaging.
Despite the quality of the animation and the high levels of creativity that have clearly gone into the design and look of the piece there’s simply not enough in place in terms of story and humour to make this film properly work. Elements that make up the rising tensions between the two families of different worlds and eras have been seen in different places before and while there are some good ideas and points throughout these mostly lie within the setting of a scene and the way it’s started instead of where it goes, leads the story and develops the characters. Once again it almost seems to be down to the design and look of the animation, which while strong isn’t enough to distract from the heavy convention of the almost two-plot feel of the film.
Despite a strong creative look The Croods 2: A New Age feels like something of years gone by due to its conventional narrative, feeling almost like two short films, and unsuccessful, repetitive humour.