Retro Review: Encino Man (1992)

Retro Review: Encino Man (1992)

Revisiting a childhood favorite proves to be a bad idea.

Much like Brendan Fraser's titular caveman, my memories of enjoying "Encino Man" at age 12 were inexplicably unearthed this past week. I decided to revisit the film out of curiosity, unsure if my hazy recollections of the film still held up. It would seem that some childhood memories are best left buried.

The plot of "Encino Man" is standard fish-out-of-water comedy fare. High school students Dave and Stoney (Sean Astin and Pauly Shore, both looking far too old to be playing teenagers) discover a frozen caveman while digging the foundation for a swimming pool in Dave's backyard. The two twentysomething teens thaw out the caveman (played with embarrassingly dogged commitment by Brendan Fraser), dub him "Link", and decide to integrate him into the local high school. Much like Michael J. Fox's lycanthropy in "Teen Wolf", the presence of a caveman in Dave and Stoney's company inexplicably increases the duo's popularity in school. Wacky hijinks ensue for a majority of the second and third acts as Link fumbles his way through high school and other zany aspects of modern life, repeating the same joke over and over. Try to stifle your laughter as Link fails to understand how a modern convenience works, followed by some form of slapstick joke. Eventually the movie just stops, without much of a climax. There is a halfhearted showdown with a bully character, but that too ends in the same lamebrain slapstick that comprises every other gag in the film. And of course there is a choreographed dance number at the prom, because it what would a generic comedy be without a choreographed dance number?

"Encino Man" functions best as an anti-nostalgia film. If you ever find yourself pining for all things 1990s, this movie will remind you why we left all that behind. "Encino Man" is a parade of everything regrettable from the final decade of the 20th century. The costumes in the film are garish, mismatched attempts at capturing the hip youth look. Brendan Fraser's clashing neon plaid wardrobe and Pauly Shore's pink mesh sweater are two of biggest eyesores to ever blemish the silver screen. There is also the matter of Pauly Shore, one of the more embarrassing pop culture icons of the 1990s. His character is obnoxious, speaking almost entirely in manufactured pseudo surfer dude lingo. Even worse, he cannot seem to be bothered to give the performance any energy, frequently coming across like Bill & Ted on Nyquil. This is especially apparent whenever he shares the screen with Fraser, whose spirited commitment to the role of the vacant-eyed manchild Neanderthal is equal parts admirable and concerning.

The experience of watching "Encino Man" is unpleasant on multiple levels. For one, it is a predictable and unsurprising film that fails to offer anything funny or original. But the deep-seeded unpleasantness of this film is how 1990s it is. As much as I would like the view the decade with rose-tinted glasses and only remember it as a mishmash of vaporwave aesthetics, this is as much a representation of the 1990s as anything I would rather remember. Warts and all, "Encino Man" is a time capsule of the era, and it is unpleasant for me to reconcile the cognitive dissonance that the same decade that produced many things I enjoy also produced this half-baked Pauly Shore film.

Rating: 4/10

Cover Image Credit: Alain Chautard

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11 Things Psychology Majors Hear That Drive Them Crazy

No pun intended.

We've all been there. You're talking to a new acquaintance, or a friend of your parents, or whoever. And then, you get the dreaded question.

"So what are you studying in school?"

Cue the instant regret of picking Psychology as your major, solely for the fact that you are 99.9% likely to receive one of the slightly comical, slightly cliche, slightly annoying phrases listed below. Don't worry though, I've included some responses for you to use next time this comes up in conversation. Because it will.

Quick side note, these are all real-life remarks that I've gotten when I told people I was a psych major.

Here we go.

1. So are you, like, analyzing me right now?

Well, I wasn't. But yeah. Now I am.

2. Ugh so jealous! You picked the easy major.

"Lol" is all I have to say to this one. I'm gonna go write my 15-page paper on cognitive impairment. You have fun with your five college algebra problems, though!

3. So can you tell me what you think is wrong with me? *Shares entire life story*

Don't get me wrong; I love listening and helping people get through hard times. But we can save the story about how one time that one friend said that one slightly rude comment to you for later.

4. Well, s**t, I have to be careful what I say around you.

Relax, pal. I couldn't diagnose and/or institutionalize you even if I wanted to.

5. OMG! I have the perfect first client for you! *Proceeds to vent about ex-boyfriend or girlfriend*

Possible good response: simply nod your head the entire time, while actually secretly thinking about the Ben and Jerry's carton you're going to go home and demolish after this conversation ends.

6. So you must kind of be like, secretly insane or something to be into Psychology.

Option one: try and hide that you're offended. Option two: just go with it, throw a full-blown tantrum, and scare off this individual, thereby ending this painful conversation.

7. Oh. So you want to be a shrink?

First off, please. Stop. Calling. Therapists. Shrinks. Second, that's not a psych major's one and only job option.

8. You know you have to go to grad school if you ever want a job in Psychology.

Not completely true, for the record. But I am fully aware that I may have to spend up to seven more years of my life in school. Thanks for the friendly reminder.

9. So you... want to work with like... psychopaths?

Let's get serious and completely not-sarcastic for a second. First off, I take personal offense to this one. Having a mental illness does not classify you as a psycho, or not normal, or not deserving of being treated just like anyone else on the planet. Please stop using a handful of umbrella terms to label millions of wonderful individuals. It's not cool and not appreciated.

10. So can you, like, read my mind?

It actually might be fun to say yes to this one. Try it out and see what happens. Get back to me.

11. You must be a really emotional person to want to work in Psychology.

Psychology is more than about feeling happy, or sad, or angry. Psychology is about understanding the most complex thing to ever happen to us: our brain. How it works the way it does, why it works the way it does, and how we can better understand and communicate with this incredibly mysterious, incredibly vast organ in our tiny little skull. That's what psychology is.

So keep your head up, psychology majors, and don't let anyone discourage you about choosing, what is in my opinion, the coolest career field out there. The world needs more people like us.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Short Stories On Odyssey: Roses

What's worth more than red roses?


Five years old and a bouquet of roses rested in her hands. The audience-- clapped away her performance, giving her a standing ovation. She's smiling then because everything made sense, her happiness as bright as the roses she held in her hands.

Fifteen now, and a pile of papers rested on her desk. The teachers all smiled when she walked down the aisle and gave them her presentation. She was content then but oh so stressed, but her parents happy she had an A as a grade, not red on her chest.

Eighteen now and a trail of tears followed her to the door. Partying, and doing some wild things, she just didn't know who she was. She's crying now, doesn't know anymore, slamming her fists into walls, pricking her fingers on roses' thorns.

Twenty-one and a bundle of bills were grasped in her hands. All the men-- clapped and roared as she sold her soul, to the pole, for a dance. She's frowning now because everything went wrong, but she has to stay strong, for rich green money, is worth more than red roses.

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