Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Les Mayfield|
|Music by||J. Peter Robinson|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$40.7 million|
Encino Man (known as California Man in Europe and New Zealand) is a 1992 American comedy film directed by Les Mayfield and starring Brendan Fraser, Sean Astin and Pauly Shore. The plot revolves around two geeky teenagers from Encino, Los Angeles, California, played by Astin and Shore, who discover a caveman in Astin's backyard frozen in a block of ice.
The caveman, played by Fraser, has to learn to live in the 20th century. Along the way, he teaches them about life.
This segues into a present day Los Angeles earthquake that awakens average teenager Dave Morgan. He, along with his best friend Stoney, strives to attain popularity in high school, but comes off more as a reject and an outcast. Dave is in love with Robyn Sweeney, a sweet and attractive girl who has been his best friend since grade school, and, until she reached adolescence, had been rejected by Dave on several occasions.
Her boyfriend, Matt Wilson, is a stereotypical jock and school bully, who is constantly responsible for making both Dave and Stoney the objects of ridicule by humiliating them in various ways, usually directly due to Dave's growing affections toward Robyn.
One day, as Dave is digging a pool in his backyard, he comes across a chunk of ice that has the body of a man in it following an earthquake. They leave the ice block unattended in the garage and space heaters left on cause the ice to melt, releasing the caveman from the opening of the film. The caveman then encounters a garbage truck, which he misinterprets as a mammoth from his time, and television, which he discovers upon entering Dave's house.
When the boys return home, they find hand paint covering the walls and the house is in disarray. Investigating a beeping smoke alarm, they discover the caveman in Dave's bedroom, attempting to start a fire "Indian-style" by rotating a stick in the center of a pile of kindling. At first, the caveman panics at the sight of them, but then Stoney quickly calms him by using the flame of a lighter to mesmerize him after he panics from the phone ringing. After bathing him and trimming him to look like an average teenager, Dave names him "Link" as in the missing link.
They manage to fool Dave's family into thinking he is actually an Estonian exchange student sent to live with them, and enroll him in school where Link's bizarre behavior and supreme athletic skills shoot Dave and Stoney to popularity by association, allowing Dave to get closer to Robyn, to Matt's chagrin.
It soon becomes apparent that Stoney's bizarre attitude is having an effect on Link's actions and speech, which causes a rift between Dave and Stoney and after a fight with Matt at a skating rink, as well as an attraction developing between Robyn and Link. During a school field trip to a natural history museum, Link gets upset realizing that the cavepeople he knew are all dead and the gravity of his situation, but Stoney and Dave console Link that he is not without friends in this time, causing the trio to make a pact. Dave tries to send Link away, but a fight between him and Stoney cause Link to come running back. Stoney and Dave then make up.
On prom night, Link is a hit at the party with Robyn as his date while Dave stays in for the evening. Matt breaks into Dave's bedroom and steals photographic evidence that Link is a caveman. As Dave and Stoney go after Matt and his friends, another earthquake happens. At the prom, Matt's plan to uncover the "freak" backfires as the information instead makes Link even more popular. Dave and Robyn make up, and the three boys lead the entire prom in an impromptu caveman-like dance.
After the prom, the students attend Dave's house for a pool party where Dave and Robyn kiss. Meanwhile, Stoney and Link follow clues similar to when they found him ranging from breast prints on the slider and paint covering the walls. They follow the muddy footprints to the bathroom and discover a beautiful cavewoman in the bathtub who turns out to be Link's girlfriend from the beginning of the film. He joins her in the bathtub as Stoney cheers them on and embraces her happily as she is also made to look like a modern human.
- Sean Astin as David "Dave" Morgan, a good-natured, tense, and almost neurotic teenager who is in love with Robyn, despite losing his chance with her in grade school, because he thought she was not attractive yet. He dreams of popularity more than his friends and is the most worried about being labeled as a freak if Link's secret ever got out. He is already labeled as a geek in the school.
- Brendan Fraser as Linkovich "Link" Chomovsky, a caveman found in the 20th century when Dave and Stoney dig up a block of ice in which he is frozen. He is very friendly, despite also being very fierce and aggressive in his mannerisms. He is friends with Dave and Stoney.
- Pauly Shore as Stanley "Stoney" Brown, a loud, obnoxious hippie/new wave teenager who is a fan of the game show Jeopardy!. His outlook on life is profound and deeper than his thoughts seem to go. He is compassionate and quick-thinking, able to soothe Link's primal instincts by showing him how to harness fire. He becomes Link's best friend and role model, eventually causing Link to imitate him.
- Megan Ward as Robyn Sweeney, a kind, compassionate girl going out with the jock bully Matt Wilson. She attempts to maintain friendships with Dave and Stoney, but is often put off by their childish mannerisms. She is already showing signs of growing tired of Matt's snobby and egotistical ways. She eventually realizes the depth of her friendship with Dave and breaks up with Matt after he starts bullying him.
- Robin Tunney as Ella, a vain, self centered girl and Robyn's best friend. She attempts to gain Link's attention by flaunting her breasts at him. She is rebuffed, and learns that Link had a former love, and he has no interest in anyone else.
- Michael DeLuise as Matthew "Matt" Wilson, a popular jock and notorious school bully who has made it his passion in life to torment, bully, and humiliate Dave. He tends to keep his distance from Stoney, who merely shrugs off his intimidation attempts. He is very stuck-up and the thought of Dave becoming more popular than he is causes a great deal of conflict, eventually causing him to lose the one thing Dave wants that he has: Robyn.
- Patrick Van Horn as Phil
- Dalton James as Will
- Rick Ducommun as Mr. Brush
- Jonathan Quan as Kim
- Rose McGowan as Nora
- Michole White as Kathleen
- Mariette Hartley as Mrs. Morgan
- Richard Masur as Larry Morgan
- Ellen Blain as Tenna Morgan
- Sandra Hess as Cave Nug, a cavewoman who is Link's girlfriend.
- Mike Diamente as Steve Morgan
- Erick Avari as Raji
- Gerry Bednob as Kashmir
- Allen Russell as Redneck
- Infectious Grooves (cameo appearance) as the band playing in Prom party
Encino Man is directed by Les Mayfield, a veteran of behind the scenes promotional documentaries, making his feature film debut. The film was shot in just thirty three days in the end of 1991, which was considered a short schedule for a comedy.
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 came out a while before Encino Man for showing a comedy aimed at this demographic could do well.
Costume designer Marie France decided not to buy clothes; she instead custom made the wardrobe for Stoney's and Link's characters. For Shore, she took his own unusual style and gave it a younger look. For Fraser, who stands at a height of 6' 3", 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.
The film received mostly negative reviews from critics. It holds a score of 15% on film review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 33 critics, with an average rating of 3.1/10. 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."
Despite the negative critical response, the film was a box office success. The film took in $9,866,120 in its opening weekend coming 4th at the box office. The film went on to earn a total of $40,693,477 at the North American box office. The film was released in the United Kingdom on September 25, 1992, titled California Man, and opened on #5.
In popular culture
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 US Marine company commander is nicknamed Encino Man, supposedly for his incompetence. In the 2008 HBO miniseries of adaptation of the book the officer is played by Brian Patrick Wade. The South Park episode, "Prehistoric Ice Man" (1999), was a parody of the film, wherein the boys find a man that has been frozen in ice since 1996.
- "CALIFORNIA MAN (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 1992-06-22. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
- Andy Marx (1992-05-17). "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 2012-11-18.
- Fox, David J. (May 26, 1993). "'Lethal' Leads a Record Holiday : Top 10 Films Gross $85 Million". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
- "Encino Man (1992)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- Robert Burns (June 5, 1992). "Clothes Make the Caveman". Los Angeles Times.
- Rainer, Peter (May 22, 1992). "MOVIE REVIEW `Encino Man': Two Dudes Unearth a Missing Link". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
- Maslin, Janet (August 12, 1994). "FILM REVIEW; At Long Last Smarter". The New York Times. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
- "Encino Man (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- "UK Weekend Box Office 25th September 1992 - 27th September 1992". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
- "1992 Archive". Golden Raspberry Awards. Golden Raspberry Award Foundation. Archived from the original on April 18, 2001. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- Evan Wright. "Chapter 5". Generation Kill.
The commander [...] is a man they call "Encino Man", after the movie of the same title
- Alessandra Stanley (July 11, 2008). "Comrades in Chaos, Invading Iraq". New York Times.