The Croods: A New Age, by Cameron J. Czaja

It’s been seven and a half years since The Croods (2013) was first released and before I saw this film, The Croods: A New Age, I had trouble remembering the events of the first film. I mean, I remember the premise and the characters in it, but I had completely forgotten how it ended and I had to look it up on Wikipedia. However, one positive thing that I will say right off the bat is that The Croods: A New Age (though from this point I’m just going to address the film as The Croods 2) doesn’t rely too much on the first film in order to fully understand this sequel. Was this better than the first one? As usual let’s find out.

In this sequel we find The Croods, a family of cave people in pre-historic times led by Grug (Nicolas Cage) who is father of his three kids Eep (Emma Stone), Thunk (Clark Duke), and Sandy (Kailey Crawford), wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), and son-in-law to Gran (Cloris Leachman). They are on a journey to find a new place to call home. Joining the Croods on this journey is Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a more sophisticated cave person who met up with the Croods in the last movie. He impressed the Croods with modern ideas and inventions, and while Grug and Guy didn’t get along at first they became close companions to where Grug welcomed Guy into the family. Along the journey that the Croods go on they venture through rough terrain and rocky environments until one day they stumble a beautiful garden oasis. This garden (which made me think of the Garden of Eden at first glance) has all the food and water for the Croods to enjoy. What the Croods don’t know, however, is that this garden is owned by the Bettermans lead by Phil (Peter Dinklage), his wife Hope (Leslie Mann), and their daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran). Much like Guy, the Bettermans are a more sophisticated group of people to where they live in a modern lifestyle in a luxurious treehouse. Fortunately for the Croods, the Bettermans welcome them into their home as well as offering them their food. The Croods begin to love the Bettermans lifestyle, however Grug is skeptical to their way of life and from there the film explores if both families can adapt to each other’s customs.

If I had to be honest with myself, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about The Croods 2. It’s an animated Dreamworks sequel and it can be very hit or miss for me. Not only was this a hit for me but a surprise one at that. I say that because this was a rare film where style favored substance and there were a good number of religious allegories that I was able to spot, which I definitely didn’t see coming.

When it comes to animated films I tend to not get suckered into the visuals and slapstick humor over the story, but for some strange reason those two combinations won me. The visuals are great because Dreamworks is known for their visuals and special effects in their films, and in The Croods 2 the filmmakers took full advantage of creating a beautiful environment. As far as the slapstick humor goes, it was something that I had to shallowly admit that I found rather enjoyable. Maybe it was because it was set in pre-historic times and there was a lot to do with that kind of humor but worked for me. Had it resorted to crude humor (i.e. fart jokes) throughout, then I probably would’ve felt different.

Another thing that surprised me in The Croods 2 was the amount of religious allegories I was able to find during my first viewing. I mentioned earlier how the garden that the Croods arrived at was like the Garden of Eden, which is something I picked up from the trailer. However, one thing in the film that furthered my comparison to that place which I found pretty funny was Grug’s obsession with eating bananas. Remember how God gave Adam and Eve one rule in the Garden of Eden, which was never to eat the forbidden fruit? Well, there’s a subplot here where Phil tells Grug that he can eat anything in his garden except the bananas. Again, I found it pretty funny because we all know what happened when Adam and Eve take a bite of the forbidden fruit and I saw it coming when Grug does eat the bananas as it leads to some pretty comedic moments. 

Another religious allegory that I saw in this film which I thought was pretty funny was the cultural differences between the Croods in the Bettermans. Some might view the contrast of cultures as an allegory for the rich and the poor however I saw it a bit different. For me I saw it as an allegory for traditional Catholicism vs. modern day Protestantism, with the Croods representing the former and the Bettermans representing the latter. The Bettermans lead a certain lifestyle that seems luxurious and vastly different from the Croods. When I saw that it reminded me of how protestants and other denominations try to make Christianity more hip and appealing for people. That may sound like an odd comparison for some but when you have hung out with non-denominational Christians and attended their services you’d probably make the same comparison. 

Don’t get me wrong, despite my praise for The Croods 2, it’s far from a perfect movie. Some of the slapstick humor could get too spontaneous for some and there were moments where I was wondering how much longer the movie was going to be. Despite that this was a film that I really enjoyed, but then again the last animated film I saw in theaters was Onward back in March. It was nice to see an animated treat on the silver screen. Granted I enjoyed Onward a lot more than The Croods 2 and I bet I’ll see a better animated film before the year ends (i.e. Soul). But for right now it was a nice escape from watching a new release from my home.

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