A beloved prehistoric family returns to the big screen, this time battling more grounded challenges, in “The Croods: A New Age,” releasing in theaters today from Dreamworks Animation. In the sequel to the 2013 animated hit, the family, comprised of Grug (Nicolas Cage), Ugga (Catherine Keener), Eep (Emma Stone), Guy (Ryan Reynolds), Thunk (Clark Duke), and Gran (Cloris Leachman), find their bonds and patience tested when they encounter a more civilized group.
Joel Crawford (“Trolls,” “Shrek”), who takes over the directorial reigns from the original duo Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders, says the key for the sequel was to “expand the world and continue the story.” After Sanders, who was off doing another project, gave notes on the script, Crawford felt they had preserved the “family we know and love” and the freedom of being able to go in a new direction, which includes new characters.
The Bettermans, which include Phil (Peter Dinklage), Hope (Leslie), and Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran), live in a virtual paradise, prompting envy, mistrust, and discord from various members of the Crood family. For Crawford, who credits the new cast for their comedic timing and living up to the standards of the all-star original cast, the new family gives the film an opportunity to explore some timeless truth.
“It’s the challenge of coming across people who have a different way of thinking, a different way of living,” he said. “And to overcome those differences to look past maybe what we what we see on the surface and realize there’s more to them.”
In the paradise that is the Betterman’s home, every possible thing the Croods would want to eat is available, except for bananas, a fruit Phil warns Grug in particular of consuming. There is no overlooking a comparison to the Garden of Eden story from the Old Testament.
“It’s interesting with things like that seep in,” Crawford said. “It’s kind of built into the culture around this paradise, ‘but there’s one thing you’re told not to do’,” he said. “One of the funny things we thought was the funny aspect of a banana being the forbidden fruit there. You know, in Croods world, everything is these fantastical like, mashups. I mean, the garden looks like a Willy Wonka type. It’s amazing. Oh, yeah. Let’s uh, one thing Grug wants is the simple mundane banana.”
Like that forbidden fruit, one of the Croods pack is struggling with leaving the group behind for a more civilized group. As the others respond, it’s not unlike the feeling some parents have as their children grow and spread their wings, Crawford explains.
“You want the best for your children,” he said. “But where do you draw that line of letting them make their own choice versus trying to guide their life. That’s what I love about the Croods. It allows for every point of view, from young to old, to see themselves in this story.”
Dreamworks Animation’s “The Croods: A New Age” is rated PG and is now playing in theaters.