Monday, November 30, 2020

The Croods: A New Age

After watching The Croods in preparation for this review, we were a little surprised by the decision to produce a sequel. While it was visually very impressive and had a strong theme of ‘family sticks together’, there really wasn’t much of a storyline.

The Croods are a family of cave-people, who just try to survive each day. Father Grug (Nicholas Cage) protects his family from all the dangers that the world throws at them, and regularly cautions his family not to do anything new or different, because everything adventurous can lead to death. But his daughter Eep (Emma Stone) feels trapped and longs to explore the world. Sneaking out one night she meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a young man who is completely alone, yet searching for tomorrow.

By the end of The Croods they had all travelled to safety away from the impeding dangers of tectonic shifts, and were finally in a place where they could ‘follow the light and find tomorrow’. That was just one of numerous illogical ideas in the movie.

So, in a turnaround of the usual scenario, we were pleased to discover that the second movie is better than the first. The Croods are still searching for a good place to live, and enough food to eat. Eep and Guy are in love and considering what it might mean to be together, just the two of them. Grug however is desperate to keep the family together. Grug happens upon a wall, and when he breaks through discovers crops and ample food all owned by the Betterman family. It turns out that Phil and Hope were close friends of Guy’s parents, and they are thrilled to have Guy back, especially as he makes such an obvious partner for their daughter Dawn. It did seem a little odd for a movie, presumably aimed at under 10s, to make teen love, with parents trying to set it up, a key focus. And some humour was clearly for adults, with references to man-caves, and being passive aggressive.

After that, the story goes a little haywire and changes tack quite dramatically as the men are captured by Punch Monkeys and the women have to come to their rescue.

Some things we appreciated were:
  • The imagery is striking, with bold colours, imaginative creatures and creative landscapes. It feels like a technicolour Dr Seuss world. Nothing is quite the same as our world, but much is still recognisable, such as the wolf spiders: fluffy wolves complete with 8 legs and eyes, and spinnerets.
  • Dawn seems to have no idea that her parents are trying to set her up with Guy and no romantic interest in him. She is just keen to be friends with Eep. Eep and Dawn realise how much they have in common, and are both excited to finally have some company their own age. 
  • There were very few negative body image messages at all. How anyone looked was not really referred to, which is refreshing. In fact, Dawn is envious of Eep’s numerous scars from the dangers she has encountered. 
  • The strong family theme was again evident. Both fathers wanted what they thought was best for their children, and tried to get it, even if later it made them realise they had been “two profoundly foolish fathers”. 
  • In the end, the Bettermans and the Croods were able to look beyond their surface differences to find their common humanity. And a final happy medium was found with the families choosing to stay and live together, but Eep and Guy also able to explore the world on their own. 
I’d give this one 3 stars.

I saw an advance screening thanks to Universal Pictures Australia.

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