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Blu-ray Review: The Croods: A New Age

February 23, 2021

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

DreamWorks Animation returns to prehistoric times in The Croods: A New Age, the long-in-development sequel to their 2013 box office hit The Croods.

This follow-up film, which is arriving on Blu-ray this week following a limited release in theatres and on PVOD, pretty much offers more of the same as the first one. It simply gives us another chance to hang out with this wild family of cave people, and if you enjoyed their company the first time, odds are you will probably enjoy this sequel as well.

The change-averse father Grug (Nicolas Cage) is still preoccupied with keeping his pack together, including his wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), dimwitted son Thunk (Clark Duke), and teenaged daughter Eep (Emma Stone), who has brought her boyfriend Guy (Ryan Reynolds) into the family.

After coming to terms in the first movie with the fact that Eep and Guy are together, Grug now wants to keep the pair in the pack. When he hears them talking about wanting more privacy and independence away from the family unit, he goes out looking for a new place for his family to settle, and comes across a walled paradise that is filled with food and free from outside dangers. As it turns out, this is the home of an annoyingly perfect modern family named the Bettermans (Better Man, get it?), made up of Phil (Peter Dinklage), Hope (Leslie Mann) and their teenage daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran).

The interactions between the original caveman family and the more “civilized” Bettermans, who look down upon the Croods as dirty and unevolved, make up the bulk of the film, as rivalries form between Grug and Phil, as well as Ugga and Hope. The two families clash over the old versus new way of doing things, and tensions come from the Bettermans belief that Guy should stay with them as a companion for their daughter. Meanwhile, a genuine friendship forms between Eep and Dawn, who are both delighted by the discovery of another teenage girl.

This is the sort of sequel that mainly just exists to let us spend some more time with these characters, while also introducing some new ones and expanding the world a little bit. It’s basically an animated hangout movie in this regard. The plot is pretty basic and mostly predictable, and has a sort of sitcom feel to it. But for a film that is all about offering easy laughs with a few life lessons, The Croods: A New Age is still pretty good, and has enough in the way of humour and heart to win us over in the end.

The returning voice actors once again do enjoyable work, while Dinklage, Mann and Tran are all fun additions to the cast, with the animated characters, who don’t necessarily look anything like them, still recognizably sharing some of their mannerisms. On a visual level, The Croods: A New Age features stylized character designs and some vibrant colours, all presented in widescreen. The film offers plenty of cartoony action, as well as a variety of fun new hybrid creatures, from chicken seals to spider wolves and punch monkeys, whose language consists of hits and slaps.

The film is directed by Joel Crawford, making his feature directorial debut, and it had to be completed by the animators from their homes in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, following its on-again, off-again production since the release of the first film. This rocky, troubled production history isn’t really felt in the final product, which comes together pretty smoothly in the end. It’s not the best or deepest animated film, but The Croods: A New Age is still a pretty enjoyable one that boasts a sweet message about family and how it’s okay to let your circle expand.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray comes with a fine selection of bonus features. A regular DVD and a code for a digital copy are also included in the package, which comes with a cardboard slipcover.

Dear Diary: World’s First Pranks (2 minutes, 54 seconds): This simple, 2D animated short finds Eep and Dawn pulling pranks on Guy.

Family Movie Night: Little Red Bronana Bread (3 minutes, 39 seconds): This short, done in an interesting paper cutout animation style, finds Dawn telling a version of the classic fairy tale.

Gag Reel (1 minute, 51 seconds): This short gag reel offers a fun opportunity to see how the facial expressions of the actors are mirrored by their characters in the film.

To: Gerard (7 minutes, 32 seconds): An original short film from DreamWorks Animation, that tells the story of an old man and a young girl who bond through magic. It’s pretty sweet and a nice discovery on the disc.

Deleted Scenes (23 minutes, 7 seconds): Eight scenes that were cut from the film, presented in storyboard form with introductions by director Joel Crawford.

Thunk’s Mirror (51 seconds)

Grug’s Stakeout (2 minutes, 9 seconds)

Mancave V1 (4 minutes, 46 seconds)

Mancave V2 (5 minutes, 11 seconds)

Parrotclam Forest (2 minutes, 37 seconds)

Phil Fails (2 minutes, 4 seconds)

Guy Gets Mad (2 minutes, 13 seconds)

Supercut Thunk and Douglas (2 minutes, 20 seconds)

The Croods’ Family Album (8 minutes, 24 seconds): This featurette focuses on the film’s cast of characters and the actors who voice them.

The Evolution of… (10 minutes, 17 seconds): This second featurette offers a broader look at the production of the film.

How to Draw: Caveman Style (29 minutes, 5 seconds): Story artist Heidi Jo GIlbert teaches us how to draw eight of the film’s characters.

Eep (4 minutes, 49 seconds)

Dawn (3 minutes, 34 seconds)

Guy (3 minutes, 41 seconds)

Grug (3 minutes, 19 seconds)

Phil (3 minutes, 53 seconds)

Gran (3 minutes, 22 seconds)

Belt (3 minutes, 26 seconds)

Sash (2 minutes, 42 seconds)

Famileaf Album (2 minutes, 58 seconds): Instructions on how to make a craft like the family album seen in the film.

Stone Age Snack Attack (5 minutes, 52 seconds): Instructions on how to make three different snacks inspired by the film.

Fancy Fruit Leathers (2 minutes, 17 seconds)

Shark Milk Smoothies (1 minute, 22 seconds)

Supersized Surprise (2 minutes, 11 seconds)

Feature Commentary with director Joel Crawford, producer Mark Swift, head of story Januel Mercado and editor Jim Ryan

The Croods: A New Age is a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 96 minutes and rated G.

Street Date: February 23rd, 2021

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