Friday, July 21, 2017
ENCINO MAN (1992)
Directed By: Les Mayfield
Written By: Shawn Schepps
Story By: George Zaloom & Shawn Schepps
Cinematography By: Robert Brinkmann
Editor: Eric Sears & Michael Kelly
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Pauly Shore, Sean Astin, Megan Ward, Robin Tunney, Rose McGowan, Michael DeLuise, Richard Masur, Rick Ducommun, Jonathan Quan, Ellen Blain, Patrick Van Horn, Dalton James, Jack Noseworthy
When they find a frozen caveman in their back yard, two high school outcasts thaw him and introduce him to modern life while he in turn gets them to actually enjoy life.
This comedy is simple and high concept. One of the reasons it might be remembered is that it is one of the first films of Brendan Fraser. Who here leases harm and comic timing in a role that is almost wordless but very physical. He would never again be quite this loose. As in future films he did have that easy comedic charm and used his body to his advantage in roles in movies like GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE, DUDLEY DO RIGHT, BLAST FROM THE PAST and even THE SCOUT. He also seemed to run a parallel frantic career seeking to be taken more serious as an actor. For respectability and career longevity. Which one can understand. Even though he made cameos usually in future pauly shore comedies also. Showing he never forgot where he came from.
This film came along just when this type of film was going out of style. It was a studio pandering to it's teen base with what they thought hey could sell them. Instead of something useful or recognizable. They sold the premise. When teen movies weren't necessarily becoming. Smarter but the audience was asking for something a bit more nuanced and relatable. As generation X was coming into play.
I would relate this movie as like hard rock slowly dying and hitting it's peak towards the mainstream and feeling outdated as here was the whole alternative genre of music. That was the total opposite of what was around and exposed some hard rock for it's hollowness and excess. As the grunge sound is coming and clearly taking over and speaking for the generation and making them feel something somewhat genuine.
This film was supposed to be for teenagers and watching it is more like a family film. It is more for 13 year olds then actual teens. Who around this time were having a dilemma. As they'd seemed to be going through an indenting crisis. It seemed like literally no films were being made that spoke to them not any that they could identify with. They were all studio creations giving more universal teenage stereotypes based on what had come before. There was no one their age or around heir age making anything meaningful and heartfelt. That wouldn't come for awhile. So they were left with either classic John Hughes from a generation earlier or the pittance the got. As hey were too young for the more adult comedies and too old for children's films.
So when a movie like this came along they flocked to it. Even if just to sneak into other films. As what else did they have? There was no movies for then to represent the rebelliousness of youth. No film or filmmaker to speak for them. So the films and characters would continuously feel false as the current generation at the time seemed undefinable. They were trying to find themselves and knew the movies being offered really didn't help.
I should know I was around 13 when this film came out and saw it in the theater as it was one of the few I could go to and but my own ticket. Plus the previews made it look funny. I will admit though not necessarily good and kind of generic. It is cute.
I will also admit I was intrigued by the shock of seeing actor Sean Astin in a mainstream movie again. It had been awhile since LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON, WHITE WATER SUMMER and THE GOONIES. This was before THE LORD OF THE RINGS keep in mind. This seemed to be an introductory course film for comedian Pauly shore. As even though he isn't the lead he is the main comic relief with his stoner, surfer comedic antics that would spans a few more films. Though here he seems being groomed for the limelight after becoming a popular VJ on MTV. The plan seemed to work as this was a surprise minor hit.
His brand of comedy was based on the typical weird party guy. Who wasn't popular but was a lovable idiot who offered up kernels of truth in the fun. He was inoffensive for the most part. More a Smart Alek Doofus Just typical of teen films and the time came off as a bit misogynistic.
Which would prove to be an onslaught as he made 4 more studio comedies before his star dropped. I would say only two of which are decent (notice I didn't say good) they are memorable for one reason or another. That they and him seem more artifact.
What the film does actually do right is kind of show how a teenager didn't necessarily have to be verbal and could still be accepted with the right style, looks and behavior. Everything else about the movie is cliche. There isn't anything really if it's or special about the film other than the few things I mentioned.
The film can be entertaining as long as you don't think too much and don't spend any money on it. For some it might be a nice trip down memory lane. Or maybe something for the kids to watch and present like the main character as a historical artifact of their own parent or guardians youth.