07 August 2013

Movie Review: Encino Man by Les Mayfield

Title: Encino Man
Director(s): Les Mayfield
Genre(s): Comedy
Rating: PG
Release Date (USA): May 22, 1992

"The truth is bro, life's about greasing the 'do back, buddy, and wheezin' on the buff-fest, man. High school was interesting, alright? It was kinda like a harsh ride. Ah, ah...[howls twice]"-Stoney
Over the weekend I decided to throw a blast from the past movie marathon. I'd kick back and take on some of my favourite late 80's/early 90's movies to see if they still entertained me as much now as they did when I was a kid. The movie that made the top of this list: Encino Man. Let me give you a brief refresher:
Dave Morgan (Sean Astin) is a high school senior. He also happens to be a loser who's in love with the most popular girl in school (Megan Ward). When he's not pining for Robyn, Dave hangs out with his eclectic BFF Stoney (Pauly Shore). The struggling duo are determined to climb the social ladder (and get the girl) before graduation. How, you may ask? Only by throwing the most legendary of after-prom parties Encino High has ever seen. All Dave and Stoney need now is the pièce de résistance: a bad-ass in-ground pool. Only it isn't the pool that will catapault these two dudes into the Senior spotlight. Enter Link (Brendan Frasier), the Encino Man, aka the coolest kid in school.

Encino Man is one of those aged movies that never really hit it big and has long since been forgotten but I've had very fond memories of it so I was terrified it would lose its appeal after so many years. Fortunately for me, my nostalgia was well founded. This movie was one a childhood favourite and I'm happy to report that, even after 20+  years, it still doesn't disappoint. And the more I think about it, I never truly appreciated its cult-like status as much as I do now.

While on the surface, Encino Man is unrevolutionary in that it's everything you'd expect from a 90's-era Pauly Shore film. But if you look a little deeper you'll unearth a keen satire about popularity in high school. I mean, c'mon. The idea that a Cro-Magnon Man could become the coolest kid in school is pretty funny, probably because it's almost believable. And of course there will always be the naysayers who throw the plot's plausibility to the wind, but to them I say, "SHOOSH!" 

Am I saying this movie remotely accurate? Not at all. But do I care? No way!

Though the initial premise is every bit as silly as it sounds, there's also an unexpected sweetness that makes it surprisingly deep. One wouldn't expect a cave man to be deep, but he is. He manages to teach modern day man humility, compassion and the true meaning of friendship. And boiled down, that's really what this movie is all about. Sure, it comes across as dated but I really don't think that detracted at all from the entertainment value. In fact, it actually served to enhance the movie's rad quality. Yeah, there might be a few overtly 90's cliches but they're altogether spot on and fun.  

Another thing that I really appreciated about Encino Man was the wholesomeness of the comedy and the chemistry between the cast. Pre-hobbit Sean Astin and pro-goofball Pauly Shore make quite the dynamic duo and play off one another well. Their friendship in the movie is reminiscent of a Bill and Ted or a Wayne and Garth. Astin does serious like Shore does zany and it just works. And then there's the spectacular debut of Brendan Fraiser as the Cro-Magnon Man, Link. He's limber and animalistic and funny and simple and understanding and probably the most human person in the entire film. You seriously can't take your eyes off him.


Frasier, without a doubt, is the heart and soul of Encino Man. So yeah, the film might not be anything super revolutionary but it sure is a whole lotta fun. And really, isn't that all anyone can ask for?

Summary Prognosis
Encino Man is a simple 90's film with a lot of era-specific spirit. While you won't necessarily find anything revolutionary here, you will find spunk and humour and heart. This movie has lesser known a cult-following and is sure to please fans of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Wayne's World. It was always a childhood favourite of mine and still is, even after two decades. At the very least, it'll be a good guilty pleasure film.

Rating: ★★★★★

Watch It: Amazon | Target
Discuss It: IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes
View the Trailer:


  1. OMG! Encino Man! I'm dating myself but I went to the theater for this gem back in the day! I remember when Pauly Shore was popular...lol. Was this Brendan Fraisers debut? He is too cute. He did a string of 90's films after this one and I always enjoy seeing him on screen. I love that he still makes films. Have you seen him in Blast from the Past? If not, stop everything you are doing and go watch Blast from the Past immediately! Other Fraiser favs are Mrs. Winterbourne and With Honors.
    Thanks for the fun flashback!

  2. One more, one more...School Ties!! Not only is Brendan Fraser fantastic in it, there's also Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Chris O'Donnell playing leads. AND it's set in the 50's. Good stuff.

  3. I don't recall seeing this on in theatres but I did quite literally wear out my VHS copy of it! It's still a favourite to this day and honestly, as bad as Pauly Shore was, I still kinda dig his act. At least it he was original with it, ya know? And OMG, Brendan Frasier. MEGA-HUNK. Surprising that this was his first real role, I know! I always had a thing for him, particularaly in The Mummy movies.

    Umm, ADORED Blast From the Past and rreally enjoyed School Ties as well. Haven't seen Mrs. Winterbourne or With Honors but I loved him in George of the Jungle and Dudley-Do-Right. Both cheesy, I know, but great offshoots of the old cartoons. I even saw him in the remake of Journey to the Center of the Earth (in 3-D) a few years ago and though it wasn't the best movie ever, it was enjoyable because of the 3-D experience. Sigh. Why aren't there adorkable actors like this anymore?

  4. Okay, so we're definitely on the same page as far as Brendan Frasier goes...lol! George of the Jungle and Journey to the Center of the Earth were fun ones, I watched them with my kids. You're right, there aren't adorkable actors like him anymore.

    1. Where did all the adorkable actors go???????? :(

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