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Thursday, October 27, 2011

My 100 Worst Movies of the 90's - 61 - Encino Man (1992)

Eegah! is one of the worst movies ever made.  It was essentially designed to get the director’s son, Arch Hall Jr.’s music career off the ground.  Encino Man’s motive is far less nefarious, but it is still quite stupid, almost equally so.  Teaming up Sean Aston, Pauly Shore and Brendan Fraser, this movie hoped to cash in on the dinosaur craze of the early 90’s by not featuring any dinosaurs whatsoever!

The plot follows two dopey valley teens (Shore and Astin) who discover a frozen caveman and thaw him out.  They throw a Hawaiian shirt on him, name him Link (Get it?!) and nobody finds his grunting or animalistic behavior particularly strange.  In fact, this caveman seems to adapt quite well to modern society, even to the point of becoming a popular kid and, through association, his two modern buddies get connected with the in-crowd too.  It’s almost as though the writers had no idea what they were doing when they threw this screenplay together.  Oh, wait...

I think there was meant to be a sardonic representation of the shallowness of the youth of the 90’s, but this movie is nowhere near as effective as Heathers or even Clueless and never really resolves any sort of real conflict and we never see a real evolution of these characters, they are only on screen to carry the very weak caveman gimmick to its predictable conclusion.  

This film has the problem that, well... PAULY SHORE ISN’T FREAKING FUNNY!!!  For those of you who hate Shore as an actor as much as I do, you pretty much have this movie to thank for Bio Dome, as it was his first top-billing role in a major production and it is easily among his worst films, but it got him the exposure he needed to springboard to other major roles.  Shore’s dreadful acting aside, Brenden Fraser makes a fool out of himself here, grunting his lines, over-emoting and mugging.   Fraser can be entertaining given the right material, but he just picks the wrong movies, and this is easily among his worst.  Then there’s Sean Aston, who seems like he was cast for a different movie entirely and just said “The hell with it.” and pretty much plays this material straight. Aside from the fact that the premise is completely stupid, the screenplay has all the girls swooning over Link which is one of the most chauvinistic things in any film I can think of from the 90’s.  There’s no way anyone would find this stupid character’s behavior endearing, amusing or normal for that matter.

Encino Man was directed by Les Mayfield another in a long line of consistently bad directors who is also responsible for Flubber, Blue Streak, Code Name: the Cleaner, and the shoddy, lifeless remake of Miracle on 34th Street.  There is hardly any directing here at all.  We see a scene, the characters walk in, Fraser looks dumbfounded, Aston looks bored and Shore chews up the scenery.  There are no attempts to extend this movie beyond its pathetic material.  There is little to no artistic flair, no scenes that successfully represent the chaos of high school and nothing that gives us any reason whatsoever to care about the characters and what is happening on screen.

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