Dug is no ordinary cave man. And “Early Man” is no ordinary cave man comedy.
Rather than just be content to wax humorous about life in the Stone Age, as many Hollywood efforts have done before (with widely ranging results), director Nick Park (a four-time Oscar winner) and Aardman Animations (creators of “Wallace and Gromit” and “Shaun the Sheep”) set their stop-motion clay-animated film on the cusp of a new era.
“The age of Stone is over,” declares evil Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). “Long live the age of Bronze.”
And herein lies the crux of the problem for Dug (Eddie Redmayne), a good-hearted cave guy from an era that’s on its way out. The film, which hits theaters Friday, Feb. 16, follows Stone Age Dug and his trusty pig sidekick, Hognob (Park), as they fight against Nooth and his Bronze Age hooligans, who are encroaching on Dug’s tribal territory. Along the way, they invent soccer.
“I’ve never seen an underdog prehistoric sports movie before, so that really attracted me,” notes Park.
The film is a tech marvel, requiring 273 puppets (there are 18 Dug puppets alone) and 3,000 interchangeable mouths, all crafted by hand. So how will “Early Man” compare to previous prehistoric entertainment? There’s really only one classic to beat. Here some memorable cave man moments.
THE FLINTSTONES (1960-66) The first animated TV series in prime time, and the funniest of all comic cave fare to come (thanks to hilarious stone-age inventions, from Wilma’s woolly-mammoth vacuum to Fred’s feet-powered car), this iconic title owes a debt to Jackie Gleason’s “The Honeymooners.”
ONE MILLION YEARS BC (1966) “I didn’t want to be caught dead in a dinosaur movie,” Raquel Welch recalled in a Fox News interview last November. That deerskin bikini made her a star, and it’s pretty much the only thing anybody remembers from the film.
CAVEMAN (1981) Ringo Starr discovers fire and Barbara Bach (his future wife) while speaking only in caveman-ese, using words like “zug zug” for sex. Ugh, ugh.
ENCINO MAN (1992) Cave dude Brendan Fraser gets thawed out in grunge-era Los Angeles and undergoes a half-baked makeover, prompting disappointed moviegoers to ask: Can we refreeze him?
CAVEMEN (2007) An ABC sitcom based on the “So easy a cave man can do it” Geico ads. Gee, how could that go wrong? It aired for just over a month before getting the ax.