The Croods: A New Age

 

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A noisy, pell-mell and charmless sequel sees the Crood clan discover a garden of Eden that is not all it’s cracked up to be.

   
Croods - A New Age
 

In its own way, The Croods: A New Age is one of the most violent films of the year. There’s a running gag in which pointed objects are plunged into eye sockets. There’s a tribe of monkeys that communicates by punching one repeatedly in the face. And there’s a colossal sabre-toothed mandrill that devours human sacrifices. And yet the good folk at the British Board of Film Classification have seen fit to bestow the film with a U certificate – for “very mild comic violence, threat, injury detail and rude humour.” The Croods: A New Age adopts the creed that nothing succeeds like excess and runs, charges, gallops, hurtles and flies with it. Maybe if you hit a child hard enough between the eyes it will pay you rapt attention. So, perhaps, just perhaps, said child will not be as bored as its adult chaperone.

 

The original Croods, released in 2013, was an agreeable enough, if familiar, yarn, with top-flight animation and a few neat ideas. The sequel, which introduces New Age man – as in the spiritualist movement that actually emerged in the 1970s – plays off the same themes exploited by Aardman’s Early Man, in which primitive people come in contact with a more advanced culture. Thus, Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage), the paterfamilias of the Crood brood, inadvertently leads his family into the clutches of the hopelessly hip, laidback and inventive Bettermans. The latter not only favour pigtails, sandals and pendants, but actually live in a house with walls, doors, windows and a flushing toilet. This comic culture clash only goes so far, when Grug’s Neanderthal destruction of this new Paradise becomes more troubling than howlingly funny. Because he doesn’t know what a wall is, he destroys it.

 

However, it’s the film’s tone – the non-stop screaming, in-your-face histrionics and constant violence – that proves so tiresome. And the running gags are pushed to breaking point, such as when the Croods’ oafish son, Thunk, becomes addicted to viewing his new world through a window frame. The message is clear – or maybe not. The world hasn’t changed that much and tribal distrust (xenophobia) has been around since prehistoric times. And, like, we’ve always had a tendency to be passive aggressive. Sadly, this is one of the late Cloris Leachman’s last screen credits.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Voices of  Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman (as Gran), Clark Duke, Leslie Mann, Peter Dinklage, Kelly Marie Tran, Chris Sanders, Melissa Disney, Joel Crawford.

 

Dir Joel Crawford, Pro Mark Swift, Screenplay Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan, from a story by Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders, Pro Des Nate Wragg, Ed James Ryan, Music Mark Mothersbaugh, Sound Randy Thom.

 

DreamWorks Animation-Universal Pictures.

96 mins. USA. 2020. Rel: 16 July 2021. Cert. U.