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‘Encino Man’

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 22, 1992


Les Mayfield
Sean Astin;
Brendan Fraser;
Pauly Shore;
Megan Ward;
Michael DeLuise;
Mariette Hartley;
Richard Masur
Parental guidance suggested

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"Encino Man," the riotously unhilarious new comedy about a misfit couple of California high school nerds who discover a cave man buried in the back yard, is the kind of movie that gives evolution a bad name.

The movie, which stars Sean Astin and MTV's Pauly Shore as losers who think their Cro-Magnon pal will give them a boost up the popularity ladder, is a feeble celebration of Southern California airheadedness. The joke is that the kids take their new friend -- whom they name Link (Brendan Fraser) -- to school, and not only can't anyone tell that he's underevolved, he also becomes the hottest dude on campus. All the girls in school, including Robyn (Megan Ward), the love of Astin's life, flock to the guy, even though he could count his brain cells on one hand, if he could count. And why not? When you consider that the other students -- especially Shore, who has all the charm of an oil spill -- are pretty much Dawn of Man specimens themselves, his uninhibited animal exuberance is comparatively winning.

If Link is dumb, at least he has an excuse, which is more than you can say for Les Mayfield, who perpetrated this fossil. There is a silver lining, though: The movie's subject reminds us that if Darwin's theories apply to the movies, this survival-of-the-fittest thing should kick in, and, after the first weekend, "Encino Man" will have gone the way of the dodo.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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