The animated comedy “The Croods: A New Age” highlights the “transformative” power of family, the importance of friendship, and embracing others despite their differences, Director Joel Crawford says.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Crawford, who has two daughters, ages 7 and 10, and a son, age 12, said he was “excited” to direct “The Croods: A New Age,” because it focuses on the importance of family.
“It's about family,” he said. “Family movies are really important to me, [movies] that you can watch as a family that aren't dumbed down so much that parents don't enjoy it, but are over the kid's head or inappropriate that you can't watch it with your kids. What I love about the Croods is everybody has an entry point, whether it's a kid, a parent, or a grandparent.”
In the 2013 animated DreamWorks film “The Croods,” everyone’s favorite prehistoric family survives an end-of-the-world earthquake. In the sequel, “The Croods: A New Age,” Grug, Eep, Guy, and the rest of the gang are tasked with facing their biggest challenge of all: another family.
Searching for a new place to live, the Croods discover a colorful paradise that seems perfect for them. However, there’s one hiccup: Another family already lives there. With an elaborate treehouse, advanced inventions, and “stylish” clothing, the Bettermans live up to their name. Despite their friendly exterior, it soon becomes clear that the Bettermans have an ulterior motive. It isn’t long before tensions arise between the two families.
Just when all seems lost, a new threat presents itself, propelling both families on an epic adventure that forces them to embrace their differences, draw strength from each other and forge a future together.
Crawford explained that ultimately, “The Croods: A New Age” is a “story of friendship,” with two families discovering they’re better off together.
“The Croods only have each other. There's this tight bond between them. But they have nothing else. And that power of family is transformative,” he said.
Though the Bettermans “seem like the perfect family,” with modern inventions and creature comforts, they’ve actually “lost this family connection with each other,” he explained.
“They’ve essentially build walls around their home, built walls within the walls, and lost this family bond, and it's a wonderful journey of the Croods bring this warmth into this world.”
Rated PG for crude humor, the film stars Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, and Cloris Leachman.
Watch Joel Crawford discuss "The Croods: A New Age" with The Christian Post.
Set in the fictitious “Croodaceous Age,” the film also celebrates difference and encourages unity. It offers the timely reminder that while family is important, extending hospitality, kindness, and empathy to those outside our immediate circles is important too.
“I like quirks and flaws because that's what makes these characters real and funny at the same time,” Crawford posited.
“I'm interested in the little quirks of each character. And that's what this story was: A celebration of these two groups coming together."
"And at first, they make judgments about each other. They think they've got the other one figured out. You only discover flaws and quirks when you get to know somebody. And that's something worth celebrating ... It's a story of friendship.”
In addition to “Croods,” Crawford is behind multiple DreamWorks Animation films, including “Trolls,” “Shrek,” and the “Kung Fu Panda” franchises. He told CP that as a parent himself, he aims to make films that are “appropriate” and suitable for the whole family to watch together.
“I think it's hard to find things that are appropriate for younger kids, are fun for older audiences, and for teenagers, being able to tap into their point of view,” he said. “I remember growing up watching Chevy Chase movies, Steve Martin movies with my family, we love to sit around, and we'd laugh. That's a family bonding experience. And especially comedies, because ... you all share the moment together.”
Despite the challenges of releasing a film amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Crawford said he’s “so happy” “Croods” is releasing “because the message of it, the positivity, the joy that it brings is much needed right now.” Some of the challenges the Croods face, he said, mirror our own.
“I think it's a timeless theme, that there's strength that comes from family,” he contended. “It’s not always easy. We're spending time at home with our families right now. And there's friction because we're bumping into each other. We're all in the same house. But there's a connection because of that. It’s a hopeful movie about how our future is brighter if we share it together.”
As 2020 comes to an end, Crawford said his hope for “The Croods: A New Age” is that it “brings a sense of joy” to viewers, allowing them to “laugh with friends or family and be able to feel human connection in doing so.”
The film is distributed by Universal Pictures and opened in theaters on Nov. 25. It will be available on demand on Dec. 25.