Brendan Fraser makes his official film debut in this 1990s comedy which we get a first look at a comedian’s trademark style.
Dave Morgan and Stanley “Stoney” Brown are deemed losers at their high school. Dave crushes hard on childhood friend Robyn, who is dating the school jock and resident bully, Matt Wilson. However, Dave is also tasked with digging up a pool in his backyard. When the two come up a bowl dug up, Stoney is convinced that the bowl came from the prehistoric days. An earthquake soon unearths a massive block of ice and upon looking, Dave and Stoney learn there is a caveman in the ice.
Eventually, during school, the ice breaks and the caveman has come to life. However, he has trouble adapting to what has happened. When Dave and Stoney discover the caveman is alive, they decide to turn him into a modern-day foreign exchange student and name him Link. As Link helps Dave and Stoney’s popularity rise, Dave soon discovers some shocking events that maybe make him rethink that maybe unearthing Link might not have been a great idea. However, Dave learns a hard lesson about the power of friendship but what happens when Matt discovers the truth?
Who doesn’t mind a feel-good caveman coming out of ice story? This film would officially mark the film debut of Brendan Fraser, even though his first film shot was School Ties, released four months after this film. This is a fun film that makes good use of a different kind of “fish” and depending on your level of tolerance, it does have another ace in the hole in terms of a co-star finding his footing in the comedy world. Fraser does wonders as Link, the titular “Encino Man” who adapts to life in modern day California despite having a very limited vocabulary. While Dave sees this as a chance to gain popularity, Link’s actions and adaptations make him even more popular and well-liked among the school.
Having done more straight performances in the comedy 18 Again and the horror film Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge, we get out first look at Pauly Shore’s signature “Weasel” persona, in which the comedian becomes a caricature of meshing stoner and airhead with this film. What’s great though is that despite spending most of the film in that mode, when it comes time to give a harsh lesson to Sean Astin’s Dave in a pivotal moment, we get the straightforward aspect of Shore, a welcome complement to his goofball persona. It goes to show that he may be goofy but can tell you how it is when you need to hear it.
Michael DeLuise, son of Dom and brother of Peter, can be pretty annoying as Matt, the main antagonist of the film whose “shoosh” is let’s face it, more annoying than Shore himself. He treats Dave like crap, and he is obsessive when it comes to Megan Ward’s Robyn until she grows tired of his antics and ends up hanging out with Dave, Stoney, and Link. Also look out for Ke Huy Quan, using the name “Jonathan Quan” as computer club leader Kim, who takes a liking to Link’s impressive artwork on the PC.
Encino Man is a fun 1990s film where you may or may not be annoyed with the “Weasel”, but Brendan Fraser is really good to watch in his film debut as Link. Some fun antics that puts the term “fish out of water” to a new level.
WFG RATING: B
Hollywood Pictures presents an Encino Man Productions film. Director: Les Mayfield. Producer: George Zaloom. Writers: Shawn Schepps and George Zaloom. Cinematography: Robert Brinkmann. Editing: Michael Kelly and Eric Sears.
Cast: Sean Astin, Brendan Fraser, Pauly Shore, Megan Ward, Robin Tunney, Michael DeLuise, Patrick Van Horn, Dalton James, Ke Huy Quan, Mariette Hartley, Richard Masur, Rose McGowan.