So the last time we met the Croods, back in 2013, Grug (Nicolas Cage), the overprotective patriarch of a caveman family, was struggling to adapt to his teenage daughter Eep’s (Emma Stone) new modern friend Guy (Ryan Reynolds). Guy has new ideas, new inventions, and Grug senses that his position as leader of the hunt is threatened by this little punk. But out of pure necessity they agreed to work together, Grug searching for safety for his pack, and Guy seeking the ever elusive “tomorrow.” Eventually Grug is forced to admit that Guy’s modern thinking is in fact better for their survival, and he must have been right because the family’s still intact for a sequel.
They’re all still following the light toward “tomorrow,” but Eep and Guy are starting to think of starting their own pack, which Grug takes rather hard. Any plans for splitting up are put on hold when it seems they may have found tomorrow: huzzah! In fact, it’s a gated community, a lush oasis, an exotic land of safety and plenty. Its inhabitants, and in fact creators, are Hope (Leslie Mann) and Phil (Peter Dinklage) Betterman, and their teenage daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran), who are actually family friends from Guy’s childhood. The Bettermans are beyond ecstatic to be reunited with Guy, who would make the perfect mate for their daughter (not that there are any other options), and to show off their better way of living. Indeed, their treehouse is the absolute zenith in modern living, with every convenience, every comfort, and best of all, loads of food. Grug doesn’t necessarily appreciate its “privacy” or Phil’s emphasis on individualism, but wife Ugga (Catherine Keener) and the rest of the family seem awfully keen – even Eep, who is rather happy to have her first female friend, at least until she starts to see Dawn as competition for the one and only teenage boy in the vicinity. And after all, Guy is a modern human like them; what could he see in a cavegirl like her?
There’s lots of adventure to be had in A New Age, new lands to discover, new characters to sneer at, and plenty of wacky, zany stuff, like land sharks and punch monkeys, which may make tough critics like my nephews, who will not appreciate the teenage romance aspects, feel a little more forgiving. And while parents won’t be as keen to watch this as, say, Soul, which is hardly fair comparison, I’m sure we can all relate to fearing change, especially when it comes to family. There is a balance between the modern and the traditional that every generation must find for itself, and according to Dreamworks, that’s been true since before humans walked fully upright.