Early Man

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Early Man Movie Poster Image
Charming prehistoric tribute to "sacred game" of soccer.
  • PG
  • 2018
  • 89 minutes
 Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 12 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids will learn some of the basic rules of soccer and about why people generally love the game. That said, the game's origin story as told here is definitely fictional.

Positive Messages

Promotes the importance of teamwork, both on and off the field. As Goona explains to the Stone Agers, a team that works together for the love of the game will always have more heart than a roster full of show-offs who are only out to score for personal glory. The movie also celebrates girls/women who want to play sports, and of course the sport of soccer itself is literally deified in the story. Other themes include perseverance and communication.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Plenty of role models, beginning with Dug, who's determined to get his people back into their valley and out of the badlands. He works tirelessly to learn the rules of the game, help teach his community, and stand up to the Bronze Age bullies led by Lord Nooth. Goona is willing to help and even coach the Stone Age team. Chief is a kindhearted if overly cautious leader of the Stone Age crew.

Violence & Scariness

An ominous-sounding score opens the film. Bronze Age characters demolish the Stone Age community's buildings/homes and trample over everything. Lots of physical comedy (characters getting hit with the ball, falling, tripping, getting mildly hurt) and sight gags. The Bronze Age army/security forces pursue the Stone Agers but don't kill them. A tied-up rabbit looks like it should be roasting but always manages to escape being fully captured/eaten.

Sexy Stuff

Characters from the Stone Age wear minimal clothes, but it's not sexual. A Stone Age woman makes remarks about a Bronze Age soccer player's manliness. A man unintentionally kisses a hog instead of a woman. Near nakedness in scenes involving a bath (again, not sexual).

Language

"Totally crap," "stupid,"  and some bathroom humor (farts, a giant bird poops on someone, etc.).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Early Man is a charming stop-action animation comedy/adventure directed by Nick Park, the creator of Wallace and Gromit. A tribute to -- and fictional origin story of -- the game of soccer (or "football," as most of the world calls it), the movie cleverly proposes that the "sacred game" started in prehistoric times, when a meteorite in the shape of a ball was kicked around by titular "early man." Featuring an all-star British voice cast (including Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, and Timothy Spall), this kid-friendly comedy is a classic underdog sports story, with the Stone Age team fighting to save their small hometown from a group of Bronze Age conquerors. Expect lots of physical comedy, some (nonsexual) near nakedness, a silly unintentional kiss between a hog and a man, and the sort of potty humor that moviegoers of all ages either love or hate. There's a sweet emphasis on teamwork, as well as acknowledgment of female athletes' contributions to sports.

User Reviews

Parent of a 5, 7, and 9 year old Written byJill R. February 17, 2018

Fun, family-friendly film

Saw this film today with my children aged 9, 7 and 5. The youngest got bored near the end, but they all enjoyed it overall, as did I. It’s a bit slow, and doesn... Continue reading
Adult Written byJ P. March 6, 2018

Charming and funny

Early Man is the latest outing by Aardman. It has much about what makes their works great: the unique stop-motion visuals and the good humour, often found in ba... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old February 22, 2018

If you don't like movies about soccer, then don't bother with this one!

I, when I went to see this, had high expectations that SO weren't met. This movie completely revolves around soccer and can be entertaining if you do like... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byericcreel February 17, 2018

What's the story?

EARLY MAN starts off in prehistoric England, specifically Manchester, where an asteroid strike breaks off into a small, round ball that the surviving men kick around, unknowingly creating the game of soccer. "A few ages later" in that same valley, the residents of a small village -- including Chief Bobnar (voiced by Timothy Spall), young adult Dug (Eddie Redmayne), and their friends -- are forced out of their homes and into the harsh badlands by armed Bronze Age soldiers led by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston), who proclaims that the Age of Stone is done. When Dug is accidentally taken to the soldiers' modernized Bronze Age city, he ends up playing football (soccer), which they call "the sacred game," in an arena. After he's discovered, Dug challenges the premier team in the league, Real Branzino, for the chance to earn back his community's valley. But if they lose, the Stone Age crew has to work in the mines. Dug enlists local soccer lover/market vendor Goona (Maisie Williams) to coach his friends into a team that might just have a David vs. Goliath chance against the Bronze Age's team of superstars.

Is it any good?

Aardman Animation's football feature is a winner thanks to charming characters, clever physical comedy, and a simple premise about soccer's fictional prehistoric origins. Never underestimate the silly laugh-aloud goodness of a pig that wants to play soccer, a giant mallard duck, or a bunch of cavemen learning the rules of soccer. Hognob the hog, voiced by Early Man director Nick Park, is one of the movie's scene-stealing characters -- a coup, considering that he doesn't quite talk so much as, well, grunt. Redmayne's Dug, meanwhile, is an optimist who's sure of the power of teamwork, and he and Williams' soccer-loving Goona make a good team.

Kids, particularly those who play soccer, will love the movie's goofier aspects (see: Hognob) and the reimagining of how the game was born (in Manchester, England, of course). Parents will enjoy the wordplay and sight gags, and will appreciate the messages of teamwork, community, and courage. Spall's gray-haired Chief gets one of the biggest laughs of the film when he's asked to join the team and responds, "I'm too old! I'm 32" -- a wink, wink nod to both the limited life expectancy of ages past and the equally short viability of professional soccer players. The plot isn't as intricate as that of Chicken Run or The Pirates!, but it's slightly older-skewing than preschool favorite Shaun the Sheep. For families that love soccer, this is a definite goal.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the potty/rude humor in Early Man. Why do you think those kinds of jokes are so funny to most younger moviegoers? Do you think they're appropriate for young kids?

  • Who are the role models in Early Man? How do they provide examples of teamwork and communication? Why are those important character strengths?

  • Why do you think soccer/football is such a popular sport around the world? What's the movie's message about the "sacred game"? Do you agree that a team shouldn't be a group of players who all think they're stars?

  • How would you describe Goona's role in the movie? Are female athletes usually given the same respect as male athletes in movies and TV shows?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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For kids who love animation and soccer

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