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Caveman of the match!

Eddie Redmayne voices a chirpy caveman in story that looks like a pre-history version of Roy of the Rovers

26 January, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and Hognob (Nick Park) in Early Man

Directed by Nick Park
Certificate PG

WHAT’S not to like about a film that has Plasticine people playing football? Surely, it’s a match made in heaven.

Aardman Studios bring us this zany prehistoric story about a Stone Age tribe taking on their Bronze Age counterparts in a football match.

We meet Dug (Eddie Redmayne), a chirpy caveman who wants the best for his tribe of Neanderthals. As a family, living in a lush valley for generations, they are vaguely aware of cave paintings that tell a story that suspiciously looks like a pre-history version of Roy of the Rovers.

In a fairly clever opening sequence, we learn how early humans kicked around the heated interior of the comet that smashed into Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs, thus inventing the Beautiful Game.

Bronze Age marauders, led by sneaky chief Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) take over the valley and banish Dug and his friends to the “Bad Lands” – a rather grim prehistoric wasteland – and the only way they can get back home is to beat the cream of the Bronze Age league on the pitch, helped by sympathetic Bronze Age female football ace Goona (Maisie Williams).

As with all Aardman films, it looks wonderful. Inventive visual jokes pop up (though this is sadly not in the same league as Wallace and Gromit), and it also, of course, has a nice message about teamwork overcoming individualism.

Other asides focus on jokes about the state of the modern game, where greed and wealth dictate who wins what. It doesn’t have quite enough to be an Aardman classic, but will have lots of fans among little people, especially if they like football.

And the use of John Motson and Alan Hansen-style football commentators talking us through the showdown highlights is very funny indeed.

Some will think the idea that football was invented in Manchester, and that the blue team are bunch of mercenaries while the red side represents something more pure, a little crass, as if cash for trophies was only invented when City were taken over by oil money.


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