“The Croods: A New Age” has a stable voice, however its story is “hyperactive” and “uninspired,” critics say
Clark Duke, Kailey Crawford and Cloris Leachman speak for Thunk, Sandy and Gran in “The Croods: A New Age”.
Do you remember “The Croods?” It wouldn’t be surprising if your answer was “no”.
The Dreamworks animated film appeared to land and disappear on the radar in 2013, despite raising $ 600 million at the global box office. After the box office hit and an Oscar nomination, a sequel was planned, but it took seven years to become a reality.
“The Croods: A New Age” is slated to hit theaters on Thanksgiving. The film follows the Croods, a prehistoric family voiced by Nicholas Cage (Grug), Emma Stone (Eep), Catherine Keener (Ugga), and Ryan Reynolds (Guy) as they search for a safe place to stay Can call home. The family discovers a walled paradise that is already inhabited by another family, the Bettermans.
The enlightened and evolved Bettermans know Guy, a nomad character whom the Croods met in the first film, and spend much of the film dragging the young man away and bringing him together with their daughter Dawn. Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann and Kelly Marie Tran complete the Bettermans voice.
Tensions between families escalate, but these differences need to be addressed when a new threat forces them to cooperate.
“The Croods: A New Age” currently has a 69% “Fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes out of 29 reviews. As more reviews are received, that review is likely to change.
In times before the pandemic, there would be dozens of other reviews on the reviews page. Critic screenings in favor of sending digital links have been canceled due to social distancing guidelines. Additionally, some publications have scaled back their ratings which, for budgetary reasons, can be heavily dependent on paid freelance writers.
Despite a decent number of reviews, many critics wonder if it is really worth it for audiences to get out of their couches and get on the big screen to see the movie.
“Will people strap on masks after Thanksgiving turkey and head out to see one of the few blockbusters released this season?” Brian Tallerico from RogerEbert.com asks in his review of the film. “The business story here could make some interesting headlines, especially if it represents a financial loser for the company willing to take the risk of opening it in theaters.”
Cinema owners are confident that “The Croods: A New Age” will lure parents and children back to the theater despite the continued rise in coronavirus cases and the risk of further cinema closures. Industry analysts aren’t as optimistic that the family-friendly title will be a box office saver, however.
Here’s a rundown of what critics said about The Croods: A New Age before their Thanksgiving debut:
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
Tallerico described the film as “hyperactive and flat” in its review published on Monday.
“A decent first half and solid language work succumb to total chaos in the second half and the realization that there is almost no real artistic intention here,” he wrote. “No story, no character, no structure of the world, no design. It’s all bright colors and loud noises.”
Like many critics, Tallerico was quick to point out that “The Croods: A New Age” is being remodeled over familiar ground in the first film. Grug, the father of the prehistoric family, learns that he cannot protect his children too much and that he has to step out of his comfort zone to survive.
The film “is content to tell pretty much the same story just louder,” he said.
Read the full review from RogerEbert.com.
Emma Stone and Kelly Marie Tran speak to Eep and Dawn Betterman in The Croods: A New Age.
David Rooney, the Hollywood reporter
David Rooney, critic for The Hollywood Reporter, also found the story crowded and repetitive. He blamed the writing team of brothers Kevin and Dan Hageman, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan, and director Joel Crawford for the uninspired plot.
“This committee has taken characters with limited charm and given them even less distinction by putting a largely identical sequel to their story full of action, so manic and exhausting that it often plays like a video game,” he wrote.
A rare ray of hope in the film, however, is the decision of the writing team to fight back against two girls who are fighting over a man. Eep and Dawn Betterman are set up as likely rivals for Guy’s affection. However, the two girls become friends and bond through their very different life experiences.
Ultimately, that subplot isn’t enough to carry the film, which has “an ultimate message almost identical to that of the first film,” said Rooney.
“Despite the talent of the pro-voice cast (Cage and Stone are MVPs again) and the attention to detail in the CG environments, the film is more aggressive than engaging and rarely really funny,” he said.
Read the full review from The Hollywood Reporter.
Matt Fowler, IGN
“The Croods as a concept is still good,” wrote Matt Fowler, an IGN critic, in his review of the film.
He praised the voice actors, returning performers, and new additions for their chemistry.
“Cage’s mania mixes perfectly with Stone’s squeaky delight, and Reynolds is generally just an action comedy gift,” Fowler wrote.
For Fowler, the world of “The Croods” is still well worth a visit, be it in theaters or in a few weeks when the film is available on-demand as premium video.
“The Croods: A New Age may be modestly funny at times, but it still collapses a little under the weight of the animation sequela,” he wrote.
Read the full review from IGN.
The prehistoric Croods family is challenged by a rival family, the Bettermans, who claim to be better and more evolved.
Josh Spiegel, slash film
“Even if the pandemic wasn’t a thing, this second ‘Croods’ would be a scratch,” wrote Josh Spiegel of the film in his review for Slashfilm. “Aside from its decent success, the original film is arguably so forgotten that the second film has to open with one of its characters to keep us informed of the story.”
Spiegel said the film was a reminder of how Dreamworks Animation recently became a competitive threat to Disney’s animation groups Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Animation. He said “The Croods: A New Age” feels “uninspired” compared to movie franchises like “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Kung-Fu Panda”, which have been praised for their animation quality and emotional response.
“The story is pretty red, a mixture of the hottest ‘Flintstones’ -like clichés to fill a full-length run time,” wrote Spiegel. “Will Eep and Guy be reconciled? Or is Guy being influenced by the Bettermans to change his entire personality? Will Grug learn to live with the Bettermans? Include your lack of surprise in the answers.”
Read the full review of Slashfilm.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Dreamworks Animation and Rotten Tomatoes.