Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Catching up with Nick Park's claymation soccer-themed delight, EARLY MAN

TrustMovies spent the past few days with his daughter, son-in-law and grandkids in the Atlanta area (specifically the uber-charming little town of Decatur, Georgia), during which grandsons Ronin and Walker suggested watching EARLY MAN, the animated movie directed by the claymation maven, Nick Park (of Wallace & Gromit fame, Chicken Run, and a bunch more).

The movie, as expected given Park's oeuvre, was great fun-- and probably as much for adults as for the kids. I suspect, however, that it proved more successful in Europe and elsewhere internationally than here in the USA because its subject is soccer (or futbol, as it is known around the globe), while the manner in which this game was originally invented and played is brought to goofy and delightful life by Park (shown below) and his writers, Mark Burton and James Higginson.

Early Man posits a properly dumb but very diverse caveman tribe, pushed by their youngest but most forward-thinking member (shown at  bottom, with his pet cave-pig) to hunt for something "meatier" than mere rabbit, when rather suddenly their quiet life (for cavemen, anyway) is upended by marauders from a more "civilized" (read empire-driven) society.

Somehow, this turns into an all-or-nothing soccer match, which, against great odds, our little tribe must win.

Don't expect much in the way of originality in how the plot progresses, but so much of what we see and hear is so much fun that I doubt this will matter.

The film is so full of lunatic moments (my favorite occurs at the left-hand bottom of the screen, as a roach dons a pair of sunglasses while a nuclear moment erupts) that you will probably find yourself alternately chuckling and laughing aloud.

The voices assembled for this little lark includes a bevy of talented and well-known actors (check out the full cast here), and no one disappoints in the least. That voice-master Rob Brydon may be the most fun, playing several roles, including the messenger bird, above.

And, yes, there's a love story of sorts, as well as a major nod to feminism, a good 'n greedy villain, a nifty gladiatorial Colosseum set, an exciting chase or two, and tons of humor in a wide variety.

Available now on DVD and streaming (we viewed it via Comcast/Xfinity's Free Movies for Kids category), Early Man is well worth a watch for children and adults -- especially, of course, fans of futbol/soccer.

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