Encino Man (known as California Man in several territories)[5] is a 1992 American comedy film directed by Les Mayfield in his directorial debut. The film stars Sean Astin, Brendan Fraser, Mariette Hartley, Richard Masur, and Pauly Shore with supporting roles done by Megan Ward, Robin Tunney, Michael DeLuise, and Ke Huy Quan.[2] In the film, two teenagers discover and thaw a frozen caveman, who has to adjust to 20th-century society while teaching them life lessons of his own.

Encino Man
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLes Mayfield
Written by
  • George Zaloom
  • Shawn Schepps
Produced by
CinematographyRobert Brinkmann
Edited by
  • Michael Kelly
  • Eric A. Sears
Music byJ. Peter Robinson
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • May 22, 1992 (1992-05-22)
Running time
88 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million[2][3]
Box office$40.7 million[4]

The film was released on May 22, 1992, by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution (under its Hollywood Pictures label). Despite negative reviews, Encino Man was a box-office success, grossing $40.7 million worldwide on a $7 million budget.[4] It was followed by a made-for-television spin-off, Encino Woman, in 1996.

Plot edit

During the first ice age, a caveman attempts to make fire with his cavewoman girlfriend. An earthquake causes a cave-in that buries the two of them.

In 1992, an earthquake awakens Dave Morgan, an Encino teenager who strives to attain popularity in high school, but unlike his popular friend, Stoney Brown, is unsuccessful. Dave is in love with Robyn Sweeney, who was his best friend in grade school and had been rejected by him several times prior. Her boyfriend, Matt Wilson, is a jock who constantly humiliates Dave and Stoney, usually due to Dave's affection toward Robyn.

One day, while digging a pool in his backyard, Dave discovers the caveman, who is frozen in a gigantic block of ice. He leaves the ice block unattended in the garage before leaving for school the next morning, and space heaters left on cause the ice to melt, releasing the caveman.

When Dave returns home with Stoney, they find hand paint covering the walls and the house in disarray. A beeping smoke alarm leads them to Dave's bedroom, where they discover the caveman attempting to start a fire. At first, he panics upon seeing them and hearing a telephone, but Stoney uses the flame of a lighter to mesmerize and calm him. After bathing and trimming him, Dave names him Link.

Dave and Stoney manage to get Link some clothes and fool Dave's parents and sister into thinking he is an Estonian exchange student sent to live with them. They enroll him in school, where Link's bizarre behavior and supreme athletic skills make Dave and Stoney popular by association, allowing Dave to get closer to Robyn, stoking Matt's anger.

Soon, Stoney's eccentric attitude influences Link's own mannerisms, which causes a rift between Dave and Stoney. Matt starts a fight with Link at a skating rink and becomes more enraged after Robyn leaves him.

During a school field trip to the La Brea Tar Pits, Link grieves after realizing that the cavepeople he knew are all dead. Stoney and Dave reassure Link that he is not without friends in this time. During a driver's ed lesson, Link drives away in a car with Dave, Stoney, and Robyn before stopping at a dance club. Dave and Link are arrested after the police follow them there.

Dismayed at the caveman's antics and Robyn's desire to go to the upcoming prom with Link, Dave tries to abandon him, but Stoney reprimands him, leading to a fight between the two. This causes Link to return and break up the fight, leading Dave to apologize for his actions.

On prom night, Link is a hit at the party with Robyn as his date, while Dave stays at home for the evening. Matt breaks into Dave's bedroom and steals photographic evidence that Link is a caveman. As Dave and Stoney pursue Matt and his friends, another earthquake happens. Matt exposes Link as a caveman in an attempt to destroy his and Dave's reputation, but this instead makes Link even more popular. Matt is left humiliated, Dave and Robyn make up, and the three boys lead the entire prom in an impromptu caveman-like dance with Infectious Grooves providing the music.

After the prom, some of the students visit Dave's house for a pool party, where Dave and Robyn kiss. Meanwhile, Stoney and Link discover breast prints on the slider and paint covering the walls of Dave's home. They follow muddy footprints to the bathroom and find Link's girlfriend, who also survived the earthquake during the ice age. He joins her in the bathtub and embraces her happily. She is also made to look like a modern human.

Cast edit

Production edit

Originally Ben Stiller, Keith Coogan, and Jeff Maynard, were cast as the 3 main characters Link, Stoney, and Dave for a screen test. This was to show that the concept of Encino Man could work, as well as show the studio that Mayfield was capable of directing a comedy like this. Pauly Shore uploaded this screen test on YouTube.[6] Encino Man was directed by Les Mayfield, a veteran of behind-the-scenes promotional documentaries, making his feature-film debut. The film was shot from December 1991 to February 1992.[7] Filming locations across northern Los Angeles included Los Angeles Mission College in Sylmar and Six Flags Magic Mountain, while the family home was filmed at 7532 Sedgwick Court, West Hills, and the minimart scene was shot at 6586 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys.

Pauly Shore was known for his show Totally Pauly on MTV, and Disney expected this would bring an existing audience to the film. The film tested well with teen audiences, and Mayfield thanked Wayne's World, which was released three months before Encino Man, for showing a comedy aimed at this demographic could do well.[2]

Costume designer Marie France decided not to buy clothes; instead she custom-made the wardrobe for the characters of Stoney and Link. For Shore, she took his own unusual style and gave it a younger look. For Fraser, who stands at 6 feet 3 inches (190 cm), it was a matter of practicality, easier than trying to find the sizes needed, and she dressed him in baggy, knee-length shorts and oversized T-shirts.[8]

Reception edit

Box office edit

The film was a box-office success.[3] The film made $9.9 million in its opening weekend, coming in fourth at the box office. The film went on to earn a total of $40.7 million at the North American box office on a budget of $7.5 million.[4] The film was released in the United Kingdom on September 25, 1992, titled California Man, and opened at number five.[9]

Critical response edit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 14% based on 35 reviews, with an average rating of 3.4/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Encino Man isn't the first unabashedly silly comedy to embrace its stupidity and amass a cult following, but whether or not it works for you will largely be determined by your tolerance for Pauly Shore."[10] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 25 out of 100 based on 20 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[11] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[12]

Variety panned the film, saying "Encino Man is a mindless would-be comedy aimed at the younger set. Low-budget quickie is insulting even within its own no-effort parameters".[13] Peter Rainer of the Los Angeles Times wrote: "There are a lot of funny ideas in Encino Man that don't come off because the director, Les Mayfield, and his screenwriter, Shawn Schepps, don't seem to have made up their minds how smart they want to be. A scene like Link freaking out during a visit to the La Brea tar pits museum should count for a lot more than it does here".[14]

Pauly Shore's performance in Encino Man won him the Razzie Award for Worst New Star.[15]

Derivative works edit

The film was the basis for a book titled Stoney's Encino High Notebook.

A made-for-television movie, Encino Woman, aired on April 20, 1996, on ABC.[16]

According to Shore, Disney+ was discussing a sequel, as of May 2022, with the possibility of him, Astin and Fraser back as their characters.[17]

In popular culture edit

Link, again played by Fraser, makes a cameo appearance in the film Son-in-Law (1993), which also stars Pauly Shore. Fraser also briefly appears as a soldier with the name "Link" on his fatigues in In the Army Now starring Shore.

In Evan Wright's book about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Generation Kill, the U.S. Marine company commander is nicknamed Encino Man, supposedly for his incompetence.[18] In the 2008 HBO miniseries of adaptation of the book, the officer is played by Brian Patrick Wade.[19] The South Park episode "Prehistoric Ice Man" (1999) was a parody of the film, wherein the boys find a man who has been frozen in ice since 1996.

At the 95th Academy Awards, the film was referred to by Jimmy Kimmel in his opening monologue, saying it is a great night for Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan (who were respectively nominated for Best Actor in The Whale and Best Supporting Actor in Everything Everywhere All at Once) "and a difficult night for Pauly Shore". Both later went on to win their awards. Shore wrote on Twitter that he "loved" the joke about him.[20]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "CALIFORNIA MAN (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 1992-06-22. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
  2. ^ a b c Marx, Andy (May 17, 1992). "A look inside Hollywood and the movies : SUMMERTIME BRUISE : Who Dares Intrude During the Season of the Giants? Several Rock-Slinging Davids". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Fox, David J. (May 26, 1993). "'Lethal' Leads a Record Holiday : Top 10 Films Gross $85 Million". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "Encino Man (1992)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  5. ^ "Donald Clarke, Irish Times film critic, asks "Are Americans stupider than Europeans"". 2010-04-15.
  6. ^ "Encino Man Screen Test". Youtube.
  7. ^ "Encino Man (1992)". IMDb. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  8. ^ Burns, Robert (June 5, 1992). "Clothes Make the Caveman". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ "UK Weekend Box Office 25th September 1992 - 27th September 1992". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Encino Man (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 27, 2023.
  11. ^ "Encino Man". Metacritic. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  12. ^ "Encino Man (1992) A". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  13. ^ "Encino Man". Variety. 1 January 1992.
  14. ^ Rainer, Peter (May 22, 1992). "MOVIE REVIEW 'Encino Man': Two Dudes Unearth a Missing Link". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  15. ^ "1992 Archive". Golden Raspberry Awards. Golden Raspberry Award Foundation. Archived from the original on April 18, 2001. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  16. ^ Sue Cummings (April 17, 1996). "Encino Woman". Variety.
  17. ^ Zach Schonfeld (May 25, 2022). "The Oral History of Encino Man, Brendan Fraser's Caveman Cult Classic". Inverse.
  18. ^ Evan Wright. "Chapter 5". Generation Kill. The commander [...] is a man they call "Encino Man", after the movie of the same title
  19. ^ Alessandra Stanley (July 11, 2008). "Comrades in Chaos, Invading Iraq". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Lauren Huff (March 13, 2023). "Pauly Shore reacts to Jimmy Kimmel's Oscars jab over Encino Man costars' success: 'I loved it'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 14, 2023.

External links edit