The latest movie from Nick Park, the animation director famous for his claymation style. He has created classics such as Chicken Run, Wallace, and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, etc. I have loved these movies for a long time. They are always clever, and I really enjoy the claymation style.
This time around, he made a movie about cavemen. A tribe of cavemen, who hunt rabbits because the director can never make a movie without some type of reference to rabbits, lose their home when the Bronze Age comes through and chases them out to turn their valley into a strip mine.
This is what we saw in the trailer. To my surprise though, this is actually a sports movie. Turns out, the people from the Bronze Age, are huge soccer fans, and the cavemen have to play soccer to win back their land.
The movie is exactly as silly as the concept sounds. It turns into the typical underdog sports story, where the ragtag group of misfits has to take on the clearly superior team. It hits literally every trope that you would expect out of a movie like this. There is a sports training montage, that takes them from a bunch of zeros, and turns them into a competent team. They recruit a ringer, in this case, a woman who is from the bronze age, played by Game of Thrones Maisie Williams. Our main character, Played by Eddie Redmayne, has a point of doubt before the big game, only to change his mind at the last second. The villain, played by Tom Hiddleston, tries to cheat by messing with the refs. I mean it literally hits every note of the typical underdog sports story.
But, it kind of works. I mean the movie is not as good as Park’s prior work, but everything is done with a smile and a wink. The movie is ridiculous and often childish, but I still found myself laughing a lot. There is one random scene, where one of the more dimwitted cavemen is hungry. He sees a Duck and decides to throw a rock at it to kill it so he can eat. Only it turns out the duck that looked small from where he threw the rock, is actually a giant man-eating duck, and it starts chasing our protagonists around. The scene is random and ridiculous but is also funny.
One actual problem I have is the drama near the end feels really forced. It felt like they just wanted to have a scene where the character expressed doubt, so they pulled tension out of thin air. The idea was that our main Character Doug learned his ancestors would always lose at soccer, and stopped playing. it is supposed to scare him into quitting. But it feels so contrived. First off, Doug was nothing but optimistic the entire film before now. He didn’t care that his tribe was always one way, from the beginning he saw a chance for change in them. He was never in despair when they were training and his fellow tribesman were actually awful, but he sees some old cave drawings and freaks out. They could have just let the cliche drama out of the movie, or at least found a better way to deliver it.
Overall, it is a cute, funny film, but nothing special. Whereas Park’s other films felt like they were all at least above average, this one just felt like the average family movie. It was clever, but even its cleverness felt predictable. It is a good movie for a family to go see, but if you are looking for a similar experience to his other movies, you may want to wait until it comes out on VOD, and save a little money. I had a good time watching it, but was still left disappointed.
I give it a 5.5/10.