Encino Man: The Prehistoric Hottie

Picture it: you’re a chubby, slightly dorky guy in high school. Your best friend is a weirdo who wears see-thru mesh shirts with flamboyant bell bottom pants, and is constantly talking about “wheezing the juice” (whatever that means). All you want is for your childhood female friend, who is the school “it girl”, to see you for who you really are. But, who are you? You’re not a jock, you’re not a brainiac; you’re just an average dude, an average dude that is easily overlooked. Then, suddenly, an earthquake hits, and you and your freaky friend find some kind of human sized ice block. Oh me, oh my, what to do? It hits you; you need to thaw this human sized ice block to find out what’s inside. You discover that it holds a prehistoric male! But wait, It gets better. He’s alive! Now, you’ve got the key to coolness because the prehistoric man you thawed out is a total hottie and everyone, including your dream girl, suddenly thinks you’re cool. That’s pretty much the premise of Encino Man.

When the movie came out in 1992, Brendan Fraser, who plays Link, the prehistoric hottie, was an unknown actor. It didn’t hurt that his first major role was with Sean Astin, of Goonies childhood fame, and Pauly Shore, of MTV fame. Encino Man was a kick off for Fraser and Shore, in terms of cinematic fame, while being a reintroduction for Astin. All three of these guys went on to make other movies, some better than others, but this ’92 film really got people’s eyes on them.

Astin’s character, Dave, is the guy that takes Link in and claims he’s an exchange student from Astonia in order to help Link blend in. Dave is, well, pathetic. His character is so thirsty for his crush that he exploits the hell out of Link in order to make an impression on her and everyone else. He tries to use Link as a stepping stone on the path to becoming well-known. He’s supposed to be the nice guy in the movie, but really, he’s super uptight and so obsessed with popularity, that it’s off-putting.

Luckily, his weird friend, Stoney, is in it for the right reasons. Stoney, played by Shore, isn’t concerned with what people think of him. Stoney just wants to have fun and teach Link about what it’s like living in the modern world. He’s very protective of Link and admonishes Dave for using him for popularity. For example, when Link figures out what happened to his previous life while visiting the Museum of Natural History on a field trip, he comforts him and calms him down. He is also the teacher of Link on all things “wheeze”, like drinking Slurpees straight out of the spigot, and going on intense roller coaster rides. If there’s anyone in the movie that has a heart of gold, it’s Stoney, not Dave.

Considering this is a Raspberry-worthy movie, it’s odd to say that Shore is a decent actor in Encino Man, all things considered. The film is obviously a ridiculous and over-the-top premise, but Shore’s tenderness as Stoney is actually very sweet. Shore was really having a moment during the early 90s; he was an MTV VJ turned movie star, and it seemed like everyone wanted a piece of this curly haired guy. The weird thing is, though, that in the movie, Shore really displays some semi-decently acted heartfelt moments.

When one thinks about Encino Man, one needs to question if this movie even has a point. Is the heart of this movie about polarities? Is it about the desire for fame and love? Maybe it’s about mentorship, or corruption. It could also be about life as an outsider looking in. I doubt that it’s anything on a deeper level other than three dudes having fun, which is just fine. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: sometimes we watch movies for mindless entertainment. Sometimes, we just need something silly to laugh at, even though it’s completely unlikely to ever happen. Any prehistoric/preserved male body I’ve ever seen in the news most likely DID NOT look like Brendan Fraser from the early 90s, but it’s kind of fun to think about.

If you’re wondering, at the end of the movie, Dave gets the girl, Stoney is still Stoney, while another earthquake happens, and Link’s prehistoric lady is brought back to life. All in all, it’s a light-hearted teen movie that doesn’t need to be dissected, yet here I am, dissecting it. Either way, it’s a funny look back at the early 90s with its funky fashion and silly lingo. Now go munch on some grindage, buuuuuuuuuudy!

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