The Croods 2: A New Age (3 stars)

The Croods 2: A New Age

Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and the rest of the prehistoric gang are back for more animated fun

2013 DreamWorks animation The Croods was the perfect antidote to overly cutesy, kid-friendly fare, with its depiction of burly and hapless cavepeople, prehistoric dysfunction and danger, and grown-up-pleasing cast. Its Oscar nomination and box office success made a sequel an absolute inevitability. Replicating a few too many beats from the first film but adding some significant talent to the mix, The Croods 2: A New Age is entertaining enough for the whole family.

Debut feature director Joel Crawford (a former story artist who directed a short Trolls TV movie) takes over at the helm of a film that dashes through its opener, which fills in the tragic backstory of Ryan Reynolds's Guy in disconcertingly hasty and slightly insensitive style. The central premise sees teenager Eep (once again voiced by Emma Stone, giving it plenty of welly) still smitten by Guy, and her dad Grug (super stuff from Nicolas Cage, for whom this apparently represents his 100th acting credit) trying to thwart the pair's courtship.

Grug's continued overprotectiveness and his meddling in his daughter's romantic life quickly becomes tiresome. However, the introduction of the more evolved Betterman family and their new-fangled lifestyle results in some fertile new comedy territory. These genial hosts / passive aggressive monsters are nicely nailed by cast newbies Leslie Mann and Peter Dinklage, playing parents Hope and Phil, while Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Raya and the Last Dragon) voices their daughter Dawn. Peril is provided by the attempts of Hope and Phil to matchmake Guy with Dawn, though Eep befriending her romantic rival and aiding her rebellion is refreshing.

This is one of the final performances from the great Cloris Leachman, who died earlier this year; she won an Oscar for The Last Picture Show back in 1972 but younger viewers are more likely to know her from her superlative work as the fearsome grandma in Malcolm in the Middle. Leachman plays another gran not to be trifled with here, who resurrects her tribe 'The Thunder Sisters' for a rescue mission. It's rousing stuff and what The Croods 2 lacks in narrative ingenuity it makes up for in vibrant, eye-popping animation, as it floods the screen with a plethora of imaginative flora and fauna.

Available to watch in cinemas from Friday 16 July.

The Croods 2: A New Age

  • 3 stars
  • 2020
  • US
  • 1h 35min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Joel Crawford
  • Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Cloris Leachman, Leslie Mann, Kelly Marie Tran, Peter Dinklage
  • UK release: 16 July 2021

A new family appear and challenge the Croods, claiming to be more evolved than them.