- Movie Rating -

Caveman (1981)

| April 17, 1981

I laughed about four times during Caveman and given that the movie averages about a joke every minute and a half in a 91-minute running time, that’s a really bad batting average.  Going in I learn that the film has been directed by Carl Gottlieb and Rudy de Luca.  This is particularly upsetting since Gottlieb’s legacy was that six-years-ago he was brought in by his friend Steven Spielberg to redraft Jaws, resulting in a script that focused much more intensely on the characters due to the fact that the special effects weren’t working.

I wish he’d had the same approach here because he is now saddled with a project in which the special effects work beautifully and the characters badly need a boost.  The movie takes place about a zillion years ago in one of those prehistoric movie worlds in which humans and dinosaurs exist in the same space and the human beings dress in furs and leathers that cover their nether regions.  Human understanding is less evolved than the clothing manufacturing as pencil-necked geeks have to fight for space against the bully cavemen are all too happy to kick sand in their faces.

Long stretches of time go by in which human try to understand romance and basic survival, everything from hunting to basic early attempts at romance.  Our main focus falls on Atouk, played for some reason by Ringo Starr and whose main squeeze is played by Shelley Long.  Over and over again they struggle with the basics of survival, food, shelter and not being a midnight snack for a hungry dinosaur.

The dinosaur, by the way, is the star of the show.  He’s a stop-motion creation by the legendary Ray Harryhausen and he provides the film with buckets of slapstick laughs that the human actors don’t seem either willing or able to provide.  I’m not sure if this is intentional or not since much of the comedy from the dinosaur can be manipulated – something you can’t get from the human actor.

I mentioned that I laughed four times:
* a gag involving a dinosaur howling like a rooster then a coyote.
* a fart gag involving someone’s derriere on fire.
* a man who turns up in a nearby ice age and urines ice cubes.
* a frequent use of the word ca-ca.

Low-brow?  Sure.
Maybe it’s my sense of humor, I don’t know.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1981) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized