The Croods, a Chaotic Age of Manic Comedy for Thanksgiving

The Croods in 2013 was a moving, original animated gem that benefitted from clever riffs on human evolution and “cinematography” from lensing GOAT Roger Deakins. The Croods: A New Age continues the colorful, vivid imagination of its predecessor, although it lacks a certain visual subtlety and serenity that made the seven year-old original so invigorating (yes, I think it’s underrated). A tremendous returning voice cast (Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Cloris Leachman, Catherine Keener Clark Duke) are joined by Leslie Mann and Peter Dinklage as a more evolved and pretentious married couple who are lording over a veritable garden of Eden covered in acres of food and the best that Stone Age technology has to offer. Reluctantly, as godparents to Guy (Reynolds) and parents to Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran), they welcome the Croods into their not-so-humble abode in order to orchestrate a romantic union between the two childhood friends, never mind the Crood daughter Eep’s current claim to Guy. The Croods avoids politicizing anything, but given the dueling families’ philosophical and evolutionary differences, this is the perfect movie for Thanksgiving. All of it would sound like a soap opera were it not for the joke-a-minute pacing, which can be both grating and gratifying. This is a chaotic movie, filled with zany characters, loud needle drops, and wild adventures. The best part of both movies are the unique, very unscientific animals that populate the land, from wolf spiders (eight-legged wolves that spin webs) to land sharks, the sight gags are aplenty and always funny. A third-act left turn into feminist superherodom, complete with alter-ego nicknames and slow-motion intros, is incredibly random and speaks to the film’s inability to calm down. There is such a thing as manic pacing, and this sequel insists on testing the limits of our attention-deficit culture. Children are often underestimated, and even they would wince at the onslaught of jokes and jocular action. Nevertheless, the frequent cleverness of its ideas never ceases to entertain, and ensures we’re still having a good time no matter the film’s squirrel-like pursuit. A New Age continues the modern animation tradition of appealing to kids and adults simultaneously, and does so with chaotic vigor.

Grade: B-

Currently in theaters

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