A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Croods: A New Age is the sequel to 2013's The Croods, which centered on a family of Neanderthals trying to survive the elements, including teen daughter Eep (voiced by Emma Stone). This film focuses on Eep's romance with Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and her dad Grug's (Nicolas Cage) worries about losing his daughter. While the clan faces all kinds of perilous moments, most of them are over-the-top and slapstick -- fending off wild beasts is just another day in this family's life. But as the story goes on, more threats emerge that could scare littler viewers, like monkeys with glowing eyes and a giant ape monster that intends to eat some of the main characters. Some kids may also find the "punch monkey" characters -- which communicate by slugging each other -- hilarious and try to imitate them. Characters use mild insults ("dumb," "twits," etc.), there's some potty humor, and a bee sting makes one character act like she's drunk. Characters kiss, and one male is shown shirtless. Parent-child separation is referenced during a flashback, and the death of a boy's family is implied. This film strays even further from actual prehistory than the first one did, but some tidbits could prompt discussions about human evolution and migration, and there are clear themes of courage, teamwork, and the importance of being yourself. There are also some great "girl power" moments when Eep and the other female characters have to rescue the menfolk.
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What's the story?
THE CROODS: THE NEW AGE follows the titular family -- Eep (voiced by Emma Stone), Grug (Nicolas Cage), Ugga (Catherine Keener), Gran (Cloris Leachman), and foundling Guy (Ryan Reynolds) -- after they leave their cave and set off in search of a new home. When they find a lush, predator-free utopia, they think their worries are over. The only problem is that the more evolved Bettermans -- Hope (Leslie Mann), Phil (Peter Dinklage), and Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran) -- already live there. What initially seems like the recipe for companionship turns into competition -- and it turns out that the Bettermans' walled community isn't as safe as they thought.
Is it any good?
This Stone Age family comedy is a bit rocky: It has lots of laughs, but it lacks the originality of its predecessor. The film picks up from the point of view of Guy, who's joined the Croods' pack and is engaged in a full-blown, butterflies-in-the-stomach, goo-goo eyes romance with Eep. Where before Grug was worried about adventurous Eep's safety because she wanted to explore outside the safety of their cave, now he's worried that she'll leave the pack, so he discourages her relationship with Guy. It's a tired cliché and a bit of a strange choice as the plot for a kids' film. And then the Croods meet another family, the Bettermans, who try to steal Guy as a partner for their own daughter, Dawn.
On the other hand, Eep and Dawn don't take the bait and fight over a boy -- instead, they become friends. While Dawn is drawn in a more traditionally "cute" way, Guy never stops loving his tough, wild girlfriend. And Eep's rough physical nature -- which has resulted in scars and missing digits -- is shown to be cool, evidence of a life well-lived. While the original movie helped bring to light the realization that it's something of a miracle humans ever survived the prehistoric elements, this one is lighter on reality. The saber-toothed tigers and mastodons are replaced with spiderwolves and primates that communicate by getting socked in the arm or face. So, educational, it is not. But for a couple of hours of leave-your-brain-at-the-door fun, it's fine.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what "stronger together" means in terms of surviving as a pack. How does that message connect to a modern-day family?
What do the Bettermans and the Croods learn about each other over the course of the movie? How do their conflicts show the dangers of making assumptions about people who might be different from you?
How historically accurate is The Croods: The New Age? How could you find out more about prehistoric facts? How important is it for animated, fictional movies to stick close to history? What do you imagine it would really have been like if Neanderthals and Homo sapiens met up?
Does this sequel measure up to the earlier film? Why, or why not? What do you think makes a sequel successful?
- In theaters: November 25, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: February 23, 2021
- Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Nicolas Cage
- Director: Joel Crawford
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: peril, action and rude humor
- Last updated: August 31, 2021
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