Review: The Croods 2: A New Beginning – The Croods: A New Beginning (2021)

The Croods 2: A New Beginning – The Croods: A New Beginning (2021)

Directed by: Joel Crawford | 95 minutes | animation, adventure | Dutch voice cast: Gijs Naber, Thekla Reuten, Emma Heesters, Matteo van der Grijn, Saar van Koningsberger, Waldemar Torenstra, Sanne Wallis de Vries, Tim Knol, Paula Majoor | Original voice cast: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Leslie Mann, Peter Dinklage, Kelly Marie Tran, Kailey Crawford, Chris Sanders, James Ryan, Gabriel Jack, Melissa Disney, Joel Crawford, Januel Mercado, Ryan Naylor

The life of a caveman is not a bed of roses. We saw that in ‘The Croods’, the hilarious 2013 DreamWorks Animation film, in which a prehistoric family has to search for a new home after their cave is rendered uninhabitable after an earthquake. As if natural disasters weren’t severe enough, the Croods also have to deal with advancing evolution in their quest. They meet Guy, an orphan who has modern ideas about the future and invents useful tools such as a torch or a trap. Father Grug especially doesn’t like all those modern frills, his focus is on keeping the family together and taking care of it, and he does that in his own, primitive way. But eldest daughter Eep falls head over heels for Guy, which doesn’t make things any easier for Grug. In the follow-up film ‘The Croods: A New Age’ (2020) we elaborate on the events from the first part. Grug has more or less accepted that Guy is now part of the pack, much to Eep’s delight. But if you are newly in love, then you prefer to be alone with your loved one. Then you are not waiting for your father, mother, brother, sister and grandmother to be around you. Then you want privacy. While the family is snoring on the cozy ‘sleeping pile’, Grug happens to overhear an intimate conversation between Eep and Guy, in which they discuss starting their own family. But that’s not the point, thinks Grug, who wants to keep his family together at all costs.

It’s the beginning of ‘The Croods: A New Age’. What the Crood family never expected happens: they meet another family. The Betermansjes (how bold do you want the wink?) are, however, a lot more evolved than the Croods. Thanks to a self-designed irrigation system, they have managed to create their own paradise, where fruits and vegetables grow in abundance. The Betermansjes greet their primitive guests warmly, but it soon becomes apparent that the two families have completely different ways of life and visions and that they sometimes clash. Moreover, Phil and Hope Betermans believe that Guy belongs with them and is destined for a life with their daughter Dawn, and not with Eep. Grug, who sees Guy as a threat to his ‘pack’, doesn’t think it’s such a bad idea and tries to make a deal with Phil behind his daughter’s back. He is annoyed by the lost Betermans, but all that fruit in abundance is of course enticing. Especially those bananas. Although Phil emphatically urges him to leave the bananas alone. But can the primordial man Grug hold back? And what happens if he does take one…?

Unlike the first film, it is not Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders who were in the director’s chair, but Joel Crawford took on that task on his own. John Cleese, from whose brain the story of part 1 originated, withdrew and the producer team was also changed. Fortunately, the full voice cast does return for this second part. In the original, English-language version, they include Nicolas Cage as Grug, Emma Stone as Eep, Ryan Reynolds as Guy, Catherine Keener and Cloris Leachman (for whom this would be her last role before her death in January 2021). In ‘A New Age’ the voice cast is further expanded with Leslie Mann, Peter Dinklage and Kelly Marie Tran. The Dutch voice cast is also very nice, including Matteo van der Grijn, Sanne Wallis de Vries, Waldemar Torenstra, Saar Koningsberger, Tim Knol, Thekla Reuten and Gijs Naber. A fantastic voice cast, and the film definitely benefits from that. The approach of the film is once again the contrast between the prehistoric people and the more modern man: what is their position in life? For example, the Betermans family – a wonderful bunch of cliché hipsters that will make the adult viewer especially laugh – is already turning nature to their will much more than the Croods by taking over control of the water flows. That ultimately gets them in trouble is the cheerfully packaged ecological message – very appropriate at a time when climate change dominates the news of the day.

But ‘The Croods: A New Age’ is by no means moralizing: it is mainly a cheerful, colorful and busy lot that passes you quickly. There’s a lot going on and there’s a joke hidden in every frame. Just take the crazy fantasy creatures that roam the fictional prehistoric era: wolf spiders, kangadillos, seal chickens – you can think of it so crazy. The visual decoration is of a high standard in any case, because you will also be amazed in the habitat of the Betermansjes. For example, Phil appears to have created his own ‘man cave’, including a sauna, and he tries to introduce Grug to the shower phenomenon. Son Thunk is guilty of a prehistoric form of screen staring and the women prove once again that they have been the stronger sex since the dawn of time. ‘The Croods: A New Age’ somehow reminds a bit of earlier animation films, especially the ‘Ice Age’ series, but still has enough ‘its own face’. Hilarious for young and older viewers alike!

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