‘The Croods: A New Age’ Review: More Civilized

No one would call it a huge leap on the evolutionary ladder, but the animated sequel “The Croods: A New Age” is slightly funnier than its serviceable 2013 predecessor. That movie followed a family of cave persons — whose patriarch was the lunkheaded but big-hearted Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage) — as they left the safety of the rocky alcove they called home and, thanks to the creativity of an outsider, Guy (Ryan Reynolds), embraced more innovative ways of thinking.

“The Croods: A New Age,” directed by Joel Crawford, accelerates the Crood family’s clash with modernity. The clan stumbles into a verdant utopia that’s a cross between Shangri-La and Gilligan’s Island. This paradise is maintained by a family called the Bettermans, headed by Hope (Leslie Mann) and Phil (Peter Dinklage), who wear new-age garb and snobbishly show off their advanced ideas, like private rooms, windows and fruit baskets.

They also have plans to set up Guy, who has been going steady with Eep (Emma Stone), the Croods’ eldest, with their daughter, Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran), in a subplot that the writers — perhaps because the world’s still-tiny population left them without enough characters to pair off — leave at least partly unresolved.

While Dawn and Eep become besties, the dueling dads negotiate the common ground between Grug’s vestigial Cro-Magnonism and Phil’s proto-metrosexuality. Paradoxically, the movie’s energy ebbs as the proceedings turn more antic. The culture clash comedy becomes secondary once “A New Age” introduces a tribe of pugnacious, subtitled monkeys who appear to have a fairly advanced society of their own.

The Croods: A New Age
Rated PG. Hybrid animals — such as wolf spiders — that might frighten children. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes. In theaters. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.

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