Joel Crawford interview: ‘The Croods: A New Age’ director
When Joel Crawford was directing Nicolas Cage’s voice performance for “The Croods: A New Age,” he would often get so caught up in what Cage was doing that he would briefly forget his responsibilities as a director. “He brings so much. It’s never just what I expect. I honestly forget to direct sometimes because I’m just enjoying the process of watching them perform,” the director tells Gold Derby in our Meet the Experts: Film Animation panel (watch above). One instance that comes to Crawford’s mind was when Cage’s character, Grug, goes into a monologue about bananas. To help frame the scene, Crawford played a track from the soundtrack to “Once Upon a Time in the West” because of its wistful feel. “Nic took that and extended it to tapping into everything about ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ and turning into Henry Fonda.”
“The Croods: A New Age” is a sequel to the Oscar-nominated film, “The Croods,” from 2013. In this installment, the Crood family is searching for a place to live when they happen on a walled-off area full of vibrantly colored foods and plants. The area is inhabited by the Betterman family and while they first welcome the Croods to stay with them, they soon hope to be rid of the family as they think they are better than them. The entire original cast returns for this film including Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Nicholas Cage, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke and the late great Cloris Leachman. The Betterman family is voiced by Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann and Kelly Marie Tran.
The idea for the sequel was something that had been in the minds of the original filmmakers behind “The Croods,” Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco. “They knew they wanted to continue the story with the Croods and have them meet another family.” When Crawford came to the movie several years later, he believed that there was a great universality to that plot idea. “It felt like such a relatable thing that no matter who you are, you always do meet somebody who seems like they got the world figured out and you’re like, ‘Why can’t we be like that?’ It felt like a great entryway to something everybody could relate to.”
When the Croods first arrive in the world of the Bettermans, Crawford used “The Wizard of Oz” scene when Dorothy first arrives in Munchkinland as the basis for what he wanted to achieve. “We wanted that same kind of experience to take the fans from ‘The Croods,’ where it’s an amazing beautiful world but the fans and the Croods themselves experience a new environment and to really pump up the colors unlike anything the Croods had seen before.” Once that effect was agreed to, the floodgates truly opened in terms of the possibilities of what they could show in the world of the Bettermans. “Working with the production designer, we just let loose a hybrid world of mixed vegetables, fruits and animals and going, let’s make this an amazing experience when you first see it.”