Movie review: The Croods: A New Age
Releasing just in time for the school holidays, this sequel to the hit animated family adventure The Croods (2013) delivers light entertainment for adults and children alike.
As they travel far and wide to find the perfect home to settle into, the titular clan of cavepeople stumble upon a prehistoric condominium complex and lush oasis built by a rival family, and it is this premise that drives the world-expanding storyline.
The Bettermans indeed live up to to their name - they are the better men, with a better way to live.
Their addition to The Croods: A New Age allows the film to evolve beyond its predecessor after a seven-year hibernation into something bigger and better.
We welcome the returning voice cast of the surprisingly solid Nicolas Cage as leader of the pack Grug, Emma Stone as his wild older daughter Eep and Ryan Reynolds as her ingenious boyfriend Guy.
But the Croods are now overshadowed by Peter Dinklage and Leslie Mann as the hilariously bourgeois couple Phil and Hope Betterman, who unwittingly make their new guests feel like savages who do not fit in.
A sauna scene involving the two competing patriarchs in Phil's man cave is a highlight, and Mann's distinctive grating tone really makes her character a standout (there is a pretty awesome hair reveal too).
The Croods' encounters with, as well as their misunderstandings of, all things new at the Betterman abode - open windows in huts become the equivalent of a wide-screen TV, while there is an awkward transition from sleeping in a pile to sleeping in separate rooms like civilised Homo sapiens - lead to comical gags, rising tensions and class warfare.
Things are generally fast-paced and funny, but the final third is a bit too chaotic for its own good.
The action gets really manic after the menfolk are kidnapped and the remaining females join forces to save the day, and you may end up more exhausted than exhilarated.
Still, when it comes to the survival of the fittest amid Hollywood's factory of modern animated fare, A New Age is your natural selection for the festive season.
FILM: The Croods: A New Age
STARRING: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann
DIRECTOR: Joel Crawford
THE SKINNY: Searching for a safer habitat, the prehistoric Crood family discovers an idyllic, walled-in paradise that meets all of their needs. Unfortunately, they must also learn to live with the Bettermans - a family that is a couple of steps above the Croods on the evolutionary ladder.