Encino Man Film Review 90s

Movie Bunker Score:

The Quirks and Delights of Encino Man (1992)

An Unexpected Journey into the World of Encino Man

In the year 1992, the film industry gifted us with “Encino Man,” a lighthearted and somewhat absurd movie starring Brendan Fraser, Pauly Shore, and Ke Huy Quan. As a devoted fan of both Fraser and Quan, known for their remarkable performances in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “George of the Jungle,” I couldn’t resist the urge to revisit this 90s gem. Despite approaching the film with minimal knowledge of its plot, I eagerly embarked on this unique cinematic experience.

The Unfrozen Caveman and His Misadventures in the 20th Century

“Encino Man” revolves around two socially awkward teenagers from Encino, Los Angeles, named Dave Morgan (played by Sean Astin) and Stanley “Stoney” Brown (portrayed by Pauly Shore). While digging a pool in Dave’s backyard, the duo stumbles upon a caveman (depicted by Brendan Fraser) encased in ice. Naming him “Link,” the teenagers welcome this prehistoric discovery into their lives, prompting the caveman to adapt to the bewildering modern world and even attend high school.

A Lack of Plot and Stock Characters

Let’s address the obvious: “Encino Man” doesn’t boast a complex or gripping storyline. In fact, Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s “South Park” episode “Prehistoric Ice Man” parodied this film with better writing. The only character that undergoes any substantial development throughout the movie is Brendan Fraser’s Link. The rest of the characters are predictable stock figures, reminiscent of those found in typical 90s comedies, and they remain unchanged from beginning to end.

One character, in particular, fails to resonate with audiences—the protagonist, Dave Morgan. Sean Astin’s portrayal of Dave falls flat due to the script’s attempt to mold him into a relatable yet unlikable character. Dave’s unsettling fixation on Robyn Sweeney (played by Megan Ward) borders on creepiness rather than endearment. Despite Robyn’s constant rejection, Dave persists tirelessly until he finally succeeds. While this trope was common in 80s and 90s films, the most successful examples made the protagonist someone worth rooting for. However, in the case of Dave, I couldn’t help but wish for his failure. Unfortunately, the film’s conclusion disregards this sentiment, leaving me dissatisfied with the lack of character growth.

An Absurd Yet Enjoyable Comedy

Despite its nonsensical plot and underdeveloped characters, “Encino Man” embraces its identity as a ridiculous comedy. The film never tries to convince viewers that it is a masterpiece; instead, it delivers exactly what it promises—a preposterous tale of two teenagers stumbling upon a caveman. The script, penned by George Zaloom and Shawn Schepps, caters to audiences seeking a mix of comedy and teenage tropes, and it accomplishes this aim to varying degrees of success.

Within the film, you’ll encounter familiar comedic and teen movie tropes. From the presence of a stereotypical bully character named Matt Wilson (portrayed by Michael DeLuise) to Robyn serving as Dave’s prize rather than a fully developed character, “Encino Man” leans into these conventional story elements. Additionally, the inclusion of Ke Huy Quan, credited as Jonathan Quan, as Kim—a nerdy high school student—provides joy, especially when he shares the screen with Brendan Fraser. While the writers missed the opportunity to subvert or enhance these tropes, I found solace in the fish-out-of-water concept, accompanied by the comedic potential derived from Link’s neanderthal behavior in the 1990s.

Brendan Fraser’s Hilarious and Charismatic Performance

Brendan Fraser’s dedication to physical comedy and his ability to work with the material given to him shine throughout “Encino Man.” Despite Link’s limited communication skills, relying mostly on broken English, grunts, and exclamations, Fraser manages to exude a contagious enthusiasm that engages the audience. Link’s journey as a fish out of water embraces exaggeration and demands suspension of disbelief. Nevertheless, the film successfully hits the necessary beats, with Fraser’s spirited portrayal capturing the hearts of viewers. One heartfelt moment involving Link resonated deeply with me, thanks to the script’s effective emotional storytelling and Fraser’s impeccable execution. Fraser’s commitment to Link’s character development elevates the film, allowing him to shine alongside the stock characters.

Pauly Shore’s Comedic Brilliance and Stoney’s Endearing Nature

Surprisingly, Pauly Shore’s performance as Stanley “Stoney” Brown proves to be another delightful aspect of “Encino Man.” Although Stoney’s character lacks a substantial arc like Link’s, Shore’s portrayal injects an endearing charm into the film. Stoney, epitomizing the stereotypical dim-witted stoner with a heart of gold, forms a genuine friendship with Link, driven by a desire to help and connect rather than gain popularity—a stark contrast from Dave’s motives. Shore delivers several comedic moments, especially when paired with Fraser’s Link. Stoney’s amusing catchphrase, initially funny, becomes overused before eventually regaining some chuckle-inducing appeal. While Dave and Stoney’s friendship follows a typical pattern of clashing personalities, their conflicts resolve almost too conveniently—an expected 90s cliché.

The Delightful Soundtrack and Nostalgic Elements

One of the highlights of “Encino Man” is its soundtrack, featuring a mix of recognizable hits and catchy tunes that may be new to some viewers. Additionally, the film offers a nostalgic experience, as it showcases the fashion trends and dated elements of the 90s. From the aesthetics of a Doritos bag to dialogue lines reflecting the era, these nostalgic nuances contribute to the enjoyment of “Encino Man” and maintain the viewer’s engagement throughout.

An Unforgettable Blend of Good, Bad, and Downright Absurd

In conclusion, “Encino Man” is a movie that has its fair share of strengths, weaknesses, and outright cringeworthy moments. However, it is precisely this combination that makes it a memorable watch. Some scenes will undoubtedly evoke laughter, while others may leave you cringing. How much you enjoy the film ultimately depends on your tolerance for absurdity. Personally, while I groaned at certain moments, I persevered and found enough joy in this quirky comedy to justify watching it at least once. Although “Encino Man” may not