The Croods 2: A New Age (U)
- Credit: DreamWorks Animation.
Even allowing for the pandemic and the lengthy production period required for feature-length animation, eight years after the original is taking your time.
But although they aren't the Flintstones, this belated second film surely establishes the Nicolas Cage-led group of cave dwellers as the new first family of prehistoric animation.
As the name suggests, they are not the most sophisticated bunch – they wouldn't get through the door at la di da Pixar – but they do deliver fast-moving, well-performed, visually inventive comic adventures that should please the kids.
A New Age finds patriarch Grug (Cage) worrying that his beloved daughter Eep (Stone) will leave the family with boyfriend Gut (Reynolds.) Family tensions are escalated when they stumble on an enclave built by the more evolved Bettermans, Phil (Dinklage) and Hope (Mann).
This modern Stone Age family are more than a little condescending to the earthy new arrivals. Heart; yes, there's a bit of that, with messaging about the difficulties of parents letting go of their offspring, and the importance of being yourself, but nothing to get in the way of the fun.
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As with the Flintstones, most of the humour is derived from setting contemporary angst and concerns in a prehistoric period. When Eep gets obsessed with drawing love hearts on a piece of slate, her mother commands that she should "share the tablet." It's a corny piece of wordplay, but endearing. The humour throughout is nicely varied with lots of elaborate sight gags and slapstick.
The only slight misgiving in declaring them the logical inheritors of Fred, Barney and co is that this prehistoric family don't really live in the Stone Age.
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Their adventures take place in a garish, colour filled fantasy landscape that has more in common with the planet Pandora in Avatar than the usual representation of this planet's prehistory. The makers have evidently decided that because it's pre -history there's nothing to stop their imagination from running wild.
Their vision of the Croodaceous Era is a world filled with Landsharks, Wolf-spiders and Punch Monkeys in a landscape where geysers of instantly freezing water burst from beneath the surface. 4/5 stars.
Directed by Joel Crawford. Starring Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Leslie Mann, Peter Dinklage and Cloris Leachman. In cinemas. Running time: 96 mins.
http://www.halfmanhalfcritic.com/ for a review of Powerhousefilm's blu-ray release of George C. Scott in The Day of The Dolphin.