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Peter Dinklage joins the voice cast as Phil Betterman, left, in The Croods: A New Age.

Universal Pictures

  • The Croods: A New Age
  • Directed by Joel Crawford
  • Written by Kevin Hageman, Dan Hageman, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan
  • Featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds
  • Classification PG; 95 minutes

rating

2.5 out of 4 stars


I’m constantly intrigued how often kids’ movies arrive courtesy of enough screenwriters to fill a clown car.

Four credited writers for Ugly Dolls! Eight for Toy Story 4! Nine for The Lego Ninjago Movie! I assume producing animated features is sometimes like creating a television series – there’s a packed and gnarly writers’ room where everyone bats ideas back and forth until the whole thing is finessed with just the right amount of pop-culture references, life lessons and fart jokes. Or maybe the drafts are just passed down from one unknown pair of hands to another, Exquisite Corpse-style. Either way, sometimes it works (The Lego Batman Movie, care of six scribes), and sometimes it arrives bearing all the hallmarks of an overstuffed piece of disposable nothingness (Playmobil: The Movie, with five).

Story continues below advertisement

Comparitively speaking, The Croods: A New Age isn’t drowning in screenwriters; there are just five listed here, including a “story by” credit for Kirk DeMicco, who wrote the enjoyable-enough original 2013 film. But the took-long-enough sequel does bear the hallmarks of the too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen model of modern animated fare. There is, simply, a lot going on in A New Age.

The film boasts bright and poppy animation and a very talented voice cast.

Universal Pictures

The main plot involves evolution crossed with a Keeping Up with the Joneses narrative, as the Crood clan from the first film – including overprotective father Grug (Nicolas Cage), teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone) and stoner-like son Thunk (Clark Duke) – wander from their home to find a better land they’ve dubbed “Tomorrow.” But there are also side stories touching on the passion of young love, the anxiety of maintaining the family unit, the evils of colonization and even a Garden of Eden morality pitch.

It mostly all comes together in the end, but you still cannot help but watch the film and wonder why the need for just so much of everything. At least the film is more streamlined in its other elements, including its bright and poppy animation and a ridiculously overqualified voice cast that does wonders with the material, including new Croods players Peter Dinklage and Leslie Mann.

When a third Croods rolls around – and trust me, it will, no matter how well this movie performs in pandemic-hit cinemas – maybe producers can take a hint from their franchise’s prehistoric setting and cull the weaker of their screenwriting herd. It’s evolution, baby. Survival of the fittest.

The Croods: A New Age opens in Canadian theatres Nov. 25, dependent on local health restrictions

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