Children’s films, especially animations, are usually accompanied by three characteristics. First, there is always a comic tone, even when this is followed by dramatic scenes. Comedy is both physical and oral, often using common objects and speeches in popular culture in a funny way. Many of the jokes can even be directed to the adult audience, who usually watches with the children. However, these are veiled and more subtle.
The second feature is a moral, which teaches the children at the end of the film about something noble and altruistic. Or something that, if you learn as a child, can help your future life. This morality can be linked to the importance of family, friends, to believe in oneself, etc.
And, finally, the third characteristic is adventure. Children’s productions often take the character to different universes. They dazzle with a new world just as children are beginning to understand how the medium they live works. This also helps in comedy, since this world has several characteristics of the one in which they live. More importantly, this gives the public a new way of looking at real problems indirectly and from different angles.
Although these three characteristics do not have to be present in all children’s films, their weak presence seems to be the biggest problem of the new production of the Aardman Studios, the Man of the Caves, directed by Nick Park.
The studio, which has Wallace & Gromit and The Chicken Trail as successful works, is well known in the midst of stop motion (that kind of animation that uses animated dolls that are animated frame by frame). The Aardman scripts are always interesting and creative, bringing English humor to unusual scenes. However, The Cave Man does not seem to have the strength of the previous films.
The show begins by showing men from the cave discovering the pleasure of playing football. Hundreds of years later, Dug, a cave boy, suffers from not understanding the logic of his tribe, which not only hunts animals too small to survive, but also completely forgot about the sport that his ancestors discovered.
However, when Bronze-era men try to conquer their space, he bets his group’s freedom at a football game. If he wins, the villain Lord Nooth will have to leave his tribe in peace.
The comedy, first feature of the children’s film, is guaranteed in The Man of the Caves. Cave men speak with English humor and play football against a more advanced society. How could this not be funny?
However, the moral of the film leaves everything a bit confusing. Yes, we understand that Dug teaches his family, and then is supported by her to think differently when she deposits everything she has in the football game. But it is a little difficult to relate this morality to something present in the children’s reality. In the middle of the game, a second morality appears, which is the importance of believing in yourself. However, Dug only doubts himself for a few minutes, not leaving this aspect strong.
Even the adventure seems a little weak. Even going to a new world, the Bronze Age world of men, and discovering that his ancestors practically discovered football, Dug soon adapts to the place and this discovery. The short break scenes do not give the audience time to dazzle along with the main character.
What’s left is just comedy.
(This article original language is portuguese. This translation was made with Google Translate)