THE CROODS: A NEW AGE

★★★

A FUN FAMILY PREHISTORIC ESCAPE

BOXING DAY REVIEW
By Chris dos Santos
10th December 2020

Starting in 2008, DreamWorks Animation - who was then owned by Paramount - started producing shows for children's network Nickelodeon (also owned by Paramount) with 'The Penguins of Madagascar'. They went on to produce shows based on 'Kung Fu Panda', 'Monsters vs Aliens' and a 'How to Train Your Dragon' TV show on Cartoon Network. However, in 2015, something game-changing happened for DreamWorks Animation... Netflix. Since then, over 20 shows both based on already existing properties like 'The Boss Baby', 'Spirit', 'Trolls' and even freaking 'Turbo'. They also created new series including 'Trollhunters' and 'Voltron', as well as Universal properties (who now own DreamWorks) like 'Fast and the Furious' and 'Jurassic World'. It doesn't stop there; now, the NBC streaming service Peacock (also owned by Universal) is producing even more shows based on DreamWorks content, as well as Apple TV+ picking up a DreamWorks show.

The reason I bring this up is that, for the common moviegoer, it might seem strange that 'The Croods', a small 2013 animated feature, is getting a sequel seven years after its release. But when you find out there was a spin-off show 'Dawn of the Croods' on Netflix that ran for two years, it starts making sense. DreamWorks has done something not even Disney could do: they rule three of the streaming platforms with their content, and every time a new DreamWorks show comes out it dominates the services, both the newest seasons of 'The Boss Baby: Back in Business' and 'Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous' were streaming higher than a lot of Netflix's other originals at the time. And yes, Disney+, which prides itself on being family-friendly, also alienates itself that way too; if you're a family and your budget doesn't have room for a lot of streaming services, Netflix is the one that comes out on top, with content for adult as well as a bunch of kids' content.

'THE CROODS 2' TRAILER

In 'The Croods: A New Age', after leaving the cave thanks to Guy (Ryan Reynolds, 'Deadpool', 'Pokémon Detective Pikachu'), 'The Croods' have so much more world to explore. Learning that being afraid is okay when you have your families back to protect you instead of running scared. Guy is still looking for the "tomorrow" his parents told him about before they died, and when Grug (Nicholas Cage, 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse', 'Kick-Ass 10-Year Anniversary') meets the Bettermans, a modern version of the caveman family, everything seems perfect ... too perfect.

Like the first film, 'The Croods: A New Age' is a very funny and heartfelt family film. It does sometimes get a little too slapstick, but as a kids' film it's perfectly inoffensive. The sequel does push more animation-wise, and a lot of the worlds and creatures reminded me of what they did in https://www.maketheswitch.com.au/article/amp/review-cloudy-with-a-chance-of-meatballs-2, with some really inventive designs like the Wolf-Spiders and Punch-Monkeys. They also do a lot of fun slow-motion fight scenes, used really well for both comedic and epic moments. The film also has a really fun 80s-inspired soundtrack, and when it gets to finale battle they have a really fun Thundersisters moment with a kick-ass song playing; I loved it.

Like the first film, 'The Croods: A New Age' is a very funny and heartfelt family film. It does sometimes get a little too slapstick, but as a kids' film it's perfectly inoffensive.

The voice acting across the board is fantastic. Reprising their roles for the first film are Cage, Reynolds, Emma Stone ('La La Land'), Catherine Keener ('Get Out'), Clark Duke ('Bad Moms') and Cloris Leachman ('Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse'), who are all fully on board and giving it their all. And newcomers Peter Dinklage ('Avengers: Infinity War'), Leslie Mann ('Blockers') and the fantastic Kelly Marie Tran ('Star Wars: The Last Jedi') all perfectly fit into The Croods' world.

'The Croods: A New Age' does knock off some points for its generic plot. A lot of the humour they fall back on is from things like Thunk (Duke) constantly staring out the window like it's a TV; that very basic "fish out of water" stuff. It's also one of those kids' movies where the marketing is very "family v. family", but that's really not enough to have a big climax, so they throw in some outside threat for everyone to fight, while still having a lesson. The film also has the basic problem that the first film came out in 2013, and these characters aren't ones that are particularly well-remembered (unless you're a child who watched the Netflix series) and this film neither catches you up nor adds anything to make these characters more memorable. That said, I still recommend the film - it's really fun, and you'll laugh and have a good time.

With cinemas starving for content - especially family content these school holidays - 'The Croods: A New Age' is your best bet. It's the perfect holiday escape for the whole family, with big laugh-out-loud moments, epic fight sequences, and of course a great message about getting along and working together.

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