Between this and Trolls World Tour, DreamWorks Animation isn’t quite as bad as you’d think, they’re better than some give them credit for. It’s really too bad that The Croods: A New Age didn’t have the box office performance DreamWorks hoped for, because there’s actually some profound hidden meaning behind this deceptively little-kiddish feature. It shows just how much families of different beliefs and backgrounds can come together, along with providing them with newer clarity on what direction we ought to go as people if we want to break down the walls of division. Now, full disclaimer: I never saw the first Croods movie. To be honest, I don’t feel watching the first one is necessary to watch this one, as I wasn’t confused in any way while watching this, and I picked up on all the events fine, as I simply accepted anything that perhaps happened in the first movie as backstory. This could be looked at as either a standalone or a sequel, depending on how it works out best for you.
Yet this is still just like what you’d expect from any other animated DreamWorks movie, full of numerous jokes that kind of just make you groan with how predictable they are. For those jokes that do work, there’s another joke that you swore you’ve seen so many times, such as this one screaming chicken gag that’s used too frequently, or ice geysers that pop out to bleep out anytime a character shouts a swear word. Also, why is it that their version of family photos are just little slabs of cave paintings? It’s no secret that humor is one of those things that DreamWorks has never done too well, with the exception of the first two Shreks of course. Although, several other jokes do work; I did find the running joke of Thunk treating a window like a TV to be pretty funny, and I thought it was super hilarious when two characters try to speak a new language, and the subtitles reveal what they are really saying! Plus, Belt the sloth’s “dun-dun-duuuunnn” was wisely toned down to where it’s only present in two brief instances… and the opening logo.
But the one thing that hit me most was the stunning look of this prehistoric world and its colorful imaginative creatures, especially these cool giant dragonflies that pose like trees then flutter away when someone rides through their flock. I mean, it’s not so clever when you consider the fact that most of these animals are just two different animals meshed together, (wolf-spider, chicken-seal, kangadillo, etc.) but it captures the imaginations of children and speaks to the inner child of their parents to the same extent you’d expect from Disney.
The best part is it’s all done to in turn show the danger of modern technological achievement manipulating the environment, and why having all that is not always necessarily worth it, because the damage it’s doing to the wildlife will come back to haunt you someday. Yet it shows the other end of the argument as well, that it’s a tremendous blessing to have technology, as it ensures everybody is safe and in good health. The best part is that the movie brings all these points across without becoming preachy. Yet it’s still hard to ignore that this is such an old trope for children’s media, and other kid’s movies, TV shows, and books have communicated this same theme far more effectively.
Plus, this fantasy world not exactly accurate to how cavemen really would behave. I mean, yes, they obviously wouldn’t have spoken with as concise English or would have had the slang we have today, but even in what is established, it’s not consistent. For instance, why is it that sometimes the Croods walk on their knuckles like apes, and sometimes they don’t? The director Joel Crawford (who is making his feature film directorial debut here) really would be the one to notice this inconsistency, and would have been the one to tell the animators his vision. But it doesn’t seem like he did.
Rather than directing, this sequel proves how DreamWorks can handle character growth and complexity far better than most other animation studios, even Pixar. Most other studios would not bother to give the parents their own stories to tell, but it’s done surprisingly well here, to the extent where even the antagonistic parents have some sort of arc to follow. Even the granny changes by the end! There’s enough attention paid to give the dad a rivalry with the other dad, and the mom and rivalry with the other mom, and neither subplot feels half-baked. Then all the characters separate, the men in their own side quest, and the women (plus Thunk) in theirs. Thus, this movie passes the Bechdel Test, and will give little girls a sense of girl power without even calling attention to any form of forced feminist pandering. There’s even a sequence when the female characters all get stylized action poses with their own cool names, and it’s honestly really awesome and funny. So with that, neither boys nor girls watching will feel left out or underrepresented, they are treated here as equals who can pull the same type of punches. Then when it’s all over, their unique development weaves together into a single climax that helps solidify its theme about what it really means to be a family in a COVID-era society.
In conclusion, The Croods: A New Age means well, and does its darndest to entertain both children and parents, with some extra stuff for the teens and young adults. If you watched this movie, regardless of whether or not you even watched the first one, you most likely will say, “okay, that was worth the time.” But here’s the funny thing about this movie that appears made only for the eleven-and-under crowd: it subconsciously alters your mindset about families different than yourself, and makes you realize that the way you grew up is not necessarily the only correct way. There’s something we need: reliance on one another to see the big picture.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!