It has taken only two instalments of The Croods for the once-cancelled sequence to feel as overpopulated and cluttered as the grim later episodes of Ice Age. Happily, this belated sequel to the lively 2013 animation isn’t as bad as all that.
A sleek, silly DayGlo entertainment, the script by Kevin and Dan Hageman (The Lego Movie, Hotel Transylvania) and various others rapidly fires off prehistoric jokes; some of them even land.
Grug, the overprotective, prehistoric patriarch of the original movie (Nicolas Cage, having fun with his loopy public persona), continues to fret needlessly about his scrappy teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone) and her paramour, Guy (a characteristically self-referential Ryan Reynolds). A snubbed Guy leads the clan – including Grug’s wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), son Thunk (Clark Duke), wild baby Sandy (Kailey Crawford), adventurous matriarch Gran (Cloris Leachman), and pets Chunky and Douglas – into a technological wonderland owned and maintained by the considerably less feral Bettermans; Phil (Peter Dinklage), Hope (Leslie Mann), and their daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran). These agriculturally advanced interlopers welcome Guy as a potential suitor for Dawn but are rather less enamored with the family of the title.
Various encounters with punch monkeys, landsharks, wolf-spiders, and chicken seals ensue, graft welcome cryptozoological mayhem to an already zany landscape and caffeinated pacing.
Dreamworks Animation has, to date, fashioned franchises from lesser products (The Boss Baby: Family Business can only mark an improvement on the 2017 film and its TV spin-off, right?). The Croods: New Age remains a sequel that no one was crying out for. It’s busy. It’s well-staffed. It passes the time.
Eep and Dawn bond in the spirit of girl power. For all that empowerment one can’t help but yearn for the sexist tropes and superior caveman jokes of The Flintstones. Oh for a mastodon hoover. Nothing like the New Age promised by the title.