Funnily enough, I couldn't find much that stuck out to me this week as far as new Christmas movies go. However, since my last review in November was a Christmas movie, and new major releases are becoming easier to access, I really wanted to tackle the sequel to 'The Croods' - a fun, animated family adventure about cavepeople, their reluctancy to venture out into the world, and their eventual discoveries when they are forced to do so. I don't have a full review on the first one, but as luck would have it, this starts out with a brief recap, and it's easy enough to understand what's going on.
Following the events of the first film, the Crood family is still looking for a place to settle, following the sun into "tomorrow" (a whole symbolism thing about the future having a light at the end of the tunnel). The Croods are headed by Grug (Nicolas Cage), his partner, Ugga (Catherine Keener), and Gran (Cloris Leachman); Ugga's mother. The partners have three children; the animalistic baby Sandy (Kailey Crawford), the dimwitted son, Thunk (Clark Duke) and the adventurous Eep (Emma Stone) who has developed a relationship with a random caveman she meets from the first film, Guy (Ryan Reynolds). We get a bit more of Guy's backstory in the very beginning of this film as well - it's short, sweet, to the point, and tells us all we need to know about the character.
On their travels, the Croods run into a family, familiar to Guy, the Bettermans. Headed by Phil (Peter Dinklage) and Hope (Leslie Mann) One could easily compare the Bettermans to the Flintstones - basically, they've become creative and live in an advanced treehouse. The Bettermans also have a daughter named Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran) who they see as Guy's fit mate. Now, with a scenario like this, it seems very predictable that it would unfold into the general jealousy scenario involving Guy between a battling Eep and Dawn. I am so pleased to announce that the typical does not unfold here in any way. In fact, there's a whole lesson to be learned at the end that isn't the same old with this situation. Eep and Dawn become friends based on the idea neither of them quite knew other teenage girls existed.
The real fight lies in the parental units thinking they know what's best for their kids, along with Guy finding new ways to enjoy himself, away from Crood traditions. This obviously effects Eep, as she loves her family and doesn't see anything wrong with the way things are. So I guess one could say there's some subtext in here about how advancing technologies take away from what one might consider "the good old days", but I wouldn't say it gets preachy about it either. Things are a lot of fun the whole way through, and reach an adventurous conclusion once we find out why Phil is so adamant about his bananas. There's a whole thing where his one rule is that no one is allowed to eat the bananas. You find out why, but it's such a farce on people's "forbidden furniture" and the like - you know, when you go to a house with a comfy-looking couch but are told no one's allowed to sit on it.
I actually had to watch these back-to-back, because I had pretty much forgotten how the first film went, and didn't want to go in half-blind. Again, it does give us a brief recap, so one can get through this without needing to see the first one. But with that said, I might still recommend giving these a back-to-back watch for a couple of great, fun animated films. The entire cast is great with their voice work, the animation is beautiful, and there's quite a few laugh out loud moments. Perhaps best of all, they keep setting you up for the typical yet delivering the very untypical - especially with the girlfriend situation here. Either of these films are breaths of fresh air, and great for the whole family. I'd highly recommend both for a good family night in! Just bear one important thing in mind - the animals in this don't really make a lot of sense, so you might try watching it as a fantasy movie all the same.