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Caveman

****
1981

‘…one of the most free-wheeling comedies you’ve probably never seen, check out Caveman or remain in the stone age forever….’

As a critic, I’ve dedicated myself to raising awareness of this underrated comedy; the case for Caveman is always worth making. Why? Caveman came out in the post-Airplane fad for zany, and there’s some terrific, anything-goes comedy here. Carl Gottlieb’s film features Ringo Starr as the lead, and is probably the best film featuring any of the Beatles in a substantial role. And it’s got a to-die for cast. Shelly Long, Dennis Quaid were pretty young at the time, but both get to shine here. And Ringo met his wife, Barbara Bach while making this, so clearly everything worked about better than might have been expected

It’s One Zillion BC, specifically October 9th, as a subtitle suggests. Atouk (Starr) is low on his tribes pecking order, and lusts after his chief’s wife Lana (Bach). Atouk is swiftly ejected, but falls in with an adventurous group of fur-booted explorers who encounter various monsters, and even spill into a nearby Ice Age, where a de-frosted abominable snowman gives them the run around. Can Atouk find ‘alunda’ with Lana and achieve true happiness? Of course he can, and this meandering, low-stakes journey to love is easy to watch.

Writer and director Carl Gottlieb worked on the script for Jaws, and co-wrote The Jerk as well as playing Iron Balls McGinty in that Steve Martin movie. He does a nice job of keeping the laughs coming here through various wordless comic skits, but what’s really surprising here is the effects. The dinosaurs are done with stop-motion, in the Ray Harryhausen style that few could imitate. Except, by luck or design, the results are just amazing, the monsters are well matched with the action and show bags of personality too.

Caveman was a reasonable success at the time, but I can’t say I’ve been deluged with opportunities to re-assess this film. But with a 40th anniversary to celebrate this year, novices would do well to give Caveman a spin; it’s got some killer jokes, and the dinosaurs are pretty good shakes too. Did I mention the great Jack Gilroy is in this? Or what about Lalo Schifrin’s infectiously catchy score? One of the most free-wheeling comedies you’ve probably never seen, check out Caveman or remain in the stone age forever….

 

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  1. a fond memory of one of my first car trips with friends, bunking school, driving out to nearby Seekonk (which had the massive multiplex at the time) and seeing this silly as F movie. I think the fact that we were out having fun rather than anything else caused us to laugh hard enough to hurt ourselves as many of the wholly Mel Brooks inspired gags.

    • I salute you as one of the few people I’ve ever encountered that know if this very silly but very enjoyable film. You score triple points for seeing this one at the cinema! And while I get that brooks inspired this, it’s actually more focused than many of Mel’s films…

  2. In the anything goes anniversary stakes this is as good a candidate as any. I gave it a wide berth back in the day but may well be persuaded to give it a whirl. You can;t beat a good monster.

          • Yes.
            did the comment section go wonky? Ever since I went back to wordpress.com I’ve noticed that comments on other peoples blogs have been weird for me. Why only other peoples’ blogs, I have no idea.

            • It’s WordPress. Don’t waste your energy trying to understand what the hell is going on. But no, I thought you were talking about Alex’s inability to produce a pint of milk from a fridge. If a man is that efficient with his bins, I reckon he’s excellent with dairy.

          • That comment landed in the wrong place unless you are admitting to being efficient with your bins and excellent with dairy like Alex. Which is no bad thing.

              • The outcome of this debate will set the tone for generations to come. Our grandchildren’s grandchildren will look back in awe and wonder at the weighty matter that we had to shoulder. They will tell each other they simply don’t know how we did it and be thankful no such debate rages among them now.

                Poor pitiful fools. If only they knew the real story….

                • I’m doing this, not for myself, but for posterity, to try and make a better world for those who will inhabit our would in the future. Only they will be able to judge our success or failure.

                  • I don’t think there’ll be ladies tights in the future, they’re already in decline with all us laydeez wearing trousers or jeans more. Also it struck me this afternoon that bank robbers never wear ladies tights for hiding their faces, they use stockings, which are not the same, they’re kind of like one legged tights.

  3. I was extremely tempted just by the picture of the dinosaur at the top. However, knowing it stars that sellout and notoriously bad singer Starr, well, that gives me pause.
    This isn’t a musical, is it? With him tap dancing with dino’s and singing?

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