A new age? Not really, but this sequel does feel like a rung up on the evolutionary ladder from 2013’s The Croods. It delivers more of the same Flintstones-meets-Ice Age family animation, with just as much headachy slapstick action. But what it’s got over the original is the addition to the voice cast of Peter Dinklage and Leslie Mann, playing husband and wife cave-couple Phil and Hope Betterman (as in “better man”), a smug and condescending pair of prehistoric west coast hippies who throw in a few extra gags for grownups.
Dinklage and Mann join the already Hollywood-packed cast. Nicolas Cage returns as knuckle-dragging overprotective dad Grug Crood, a big softy at heart. Catherine Keener is his wife Ugga, and Emma Stone plays the eldest of their three kids, teenage toughie Eep. Ryan Reynolds is also back as Eep’s floppy-haired pretty boy squeeze Guy. The movie begins with the family stumbling half-starved across the Bettermans’ farm, a civilised paradise of Flintstones-style mod cons such as an indoor loo powered by spring water.
Kids will probably disagree, but the funniest moments here involve the Bettermans. Phil is a cross between Alan Partridge and Russell Brand, a self-satisfied barefoot yogi with a man bun. Hope is all tight smiles and pseudo-Zen calm as the Croods tramp mud on her floor. What the Bettermans really want is Guy for their own teenage daughter (in this world depopulated by climate change and savage beasties, mates are hard to come by). And the screenwriters deserve points here for swerving the stereotype of the two girls going into battle; instead of being jealous they instantly form massive teenage girl crushes on each other. Elsewhere, though, there is just too much going on, and the movie doubles in hecticness with every minute that passes, which may have you rummaging around for a couple of paracetamol.
• The Croods: A New Age is released on 16 July in cinemas.