There’s a lot of color in “The Croods: A New Age” and the kind of innovations that would make the Flintstones drool.
But the story – which boils down to finding acceptance – doesn’t need all the set-up or fluorescent colors it takes to pull off.
In the new caveman comedy, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) meets a more evolved family – the Bettermans – who show him there’s a different world outside the simple world of the Croods. Bubbling with color, devices and a tree house that puts the Swiss Family Robinson’s to shame, the walled community is immediately appealing. When he introduces the Croods to the Bettermans, they, too, are surprised. Grug (Nicolas Cage) warms to the man-cave, in particular, and is coerced into thinking Guy would be better off with the Bettermans.
That sets up a rift of sorts, makes Eep (Emma Stone) doubt her relationship and gives Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran) a clear shot at hooking up with Guy.
Monsters lurk everywhere, as well, which helps play into the Neanderthals’ thinking. But, really, this is just a dressed-up version of the first film. It still plays with the same crude tools and plotlines.
Unlike the original film, “A New Age” doesn’t give Guy, Eep or Grug many of the funny lines they enjoyed in the first. Even Cloris Leachman as Gran is limited to sight gags.
While little kids might be freaked by some of the multiple-eyed creatures, they should love the cool elevator, the caveman “television” and the references to contemporary products they might take for granted.
Directed by Joel Crawford, “A New Age” looks gorgeous and surprises with some of its voice talents. Peter Dinklage, in particular, is a standout as the sorta oily Phil Betterman. He has it all, but he’s also closed-minded and could be a template for many politicians we see today.
Stone and Reynolds don’t get the banter they enjoyed in the first film but they’re the catalysts for conflict.
Considered a possibility for Oscar attention, “A New Age” isn’t as detailed (or as mentally challenging) as “Soul” or “Onward.” But it does let animation breathe in a way Disney’s works don’t.
A better script should have been chiseled out to justify the lavish artistic attention that’s on display. It’s an age of enlightenment, to be sure, but it’s not necessarily a new one.