When watching the new film “Early Man” this past weekend, a young theatergoer reminded me of myself in his enthusiasm for the story unfolding before his eyes. It was refreshing to see someone getting into the plot and enjoying the moment.
Movies are about fun and “Early Man” is an excellent choice for children to enjoy this art form.
"Early Man" is set just as the human race is learning the basics of how to survive like forming community groups, hunting for food, and crafting tools. Woolly mammoths are commonplace, and fire is brand new. The story centers on Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) and his faithful and witty companion a saber-toothed pig named Hognob (voiced by Nick Park).
Dug is bored with everyday life and seeks something more. However, before he can do anything about his situation, a group of people from the Bronze Age arrives in his tribe’s valley and kicks them out into the badlands and begins mining for metal.
Left with no other option Dug goes to the Bronze Age city where he finds their society deeply connected to the game of football or soccer to us Americans. Dug sees an opportunity and makes a bet to their leader. If the Stone Age people can beat the Bronze Age people in a football match, they get their valley back. But if they lose the Stone Age people have to work in the mine. Both agree to the terms, and a date for the match is set.
Park is best known for his creation of “Wallace and Gromit” and “Shawn the Sheep” along with the film “Chicken Run.” Early Man follows in the footsteps of his previous work and has a lot of light-hearted humor that everyone can sit back and enjoy.
The stop-motion animation that has become Park’s signature is becoming something of a rarity these days with the rise of computer animation. Personally, it takes me back to my childhood when you would see the Christmas specials on television or the California Raisins singing “Heard it Through the Grapevine.” It is a great way to bring a story to life and refreshing to see something a little different.
The strong point in this film is the characters, the humanity they show, and the humor they use to get a laugh or to teach a lesson to its younger audience. The story of the movie appears to be about a football match on the surface, but it is a lot more. Underneath that narrative it teaches the audience about the importance of family, believing in yourself, and accepting and embracing the differences of others. All good lessons that need to take root early on in life.
The humor of the characters helped to round out the story and keep it light-hearted and fun. I had quite a few laughs watching Dug and Hognob get into mischief while trying to keep the tribe safe. These moments were critical to the movie’s success.
Films like this provide the opportunity for families to create a moment they can fondly laugh at and enjoy long after the credits have rolled on the screen.
For me, one of those moments I am reminded about regularly from my mom is the time I saw “Sleeping Beauty” when I was three years old. She told me that I stood on the seat to watch Prince Philip charge the castle and fight the dragon. I saw a lot of those moments at the screening I attended. One such moment was when I heard a little boy remark to his mom about how the film used the word football to describe the sport of soccer. He stated very loudly and seriously that, “This is not football. The Cowboys play football.” When I heard that statement, I had a good chuckle along with everybody else in the theater.
Whether you like football or soccer “Early Man” is a great movie for sports fans of all ages. It is one film that you will be glad to have seen.
I give this film four mustaches out of five.
It is rated PG for rude humor and some action and runs 119 minutes.