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January 12, 2009

Teenage Caveman

2002, Dir. by Larry Clark

If you've read my rating system that sits to the right of this review, there's a word that sums up many of the movies one finds when looking for this kind of movie - mistakes. Sometimes, a title, a poster, or even just an image leads a midnight movie lover to take a chance on a film they know little about....and the results can be dangerous.

I thought I knew what I was getting into with Teenage Caveman. I knew it was a remake of a 1950s flick from Roger Corman/American International Pictures, despite having not seen the original. I also reognized the director's name, and was looking forward to a gritty, perhaps overly dramatic monster flick. But there's where I made my mistake.

The movie is directed by Larry Clark. I was thinking of Larry Cohen.

You see, Larry Cohen had been directing creature features like It's Alive! and Q: The Winged Serpent since the early '70s; while Larry Clark had been making teens doing naughty things involving murder and AIDS movies since the mid '90s. Needless to say, there's a bit of a difference in their styles.

So, Teenage Caveman happened upon me. In fact, I think it took a big, steaming happened upon me.

The Good
My first thought after typing the title for this section was to just type "Nope." and move on. But I decided I have to say something. My second thought was to type "Well, at least it had boobs.", but that seemed a bit too little. Then I decided I was being too open in my thought process.

I've got nothin'. The picture above, of the teenage caveclan looking over a deserted Seattle, looks good. The movie had potential for that moment, 17 minutes into the film. One good moment's better than none, I guess.

The Plot
It's the future. People have reverted to caveman ways, because of some kind of disease or weather, and the leader of the tribe, our lead, David's father, likes to rape cavewomen. He also gives David (Andrew Keegan) guff for "reading"...although the reading material of choice is Penthouse. After dad tries to rape David's girlfriend, Sarah (Tara Subkoff), David kills papa, and the duo and their friends (Why is it always a group of three couples in these movies?) head off into the distance.

And then they wake up like this. And meet a Shawn Michaels wannabe and his girlfriend who've taken them in in the middle of the city (where the "cavemen" spend the rest of the movie, in early 2000's fashion, nonetheless) and decided to teach them about things like drug use and sexual promiscuity. This leads to an extended bit of teen lewd behavior, complete with everyone getting naked, doing drugs, and being annoying. Except David and Sarah, who are uncomfortable with such things. They'd like their love to be pure, but David starts to yearn, Sarah yells at him about how she performs certain services on him, and the movie continues to spiral into further idiocy.

Oh yeah, and their new keepers happen to be some kind of mutants that kill people by sexing them, I think in order to try and further their mutation.

The Bad
Where to begin? Clark's film shows a complete lack of interest in being anything more than a teenage romp on film, mixed with a monster finale. This was one of many remakes produced by a company calling themselves "Creature Features" in the early 2000s, and it seems clear to me that their main goal was to try and make something that would pander to the youth of a new millenium. However, in doing so they forgot to make the film appealing in anyway, unless you're that into sex and drugs. It seems Clark really wanted to make the film "relevant", in some way, but it's impossible to tell if he's trying to play off of an AIDS scare or parallel the Garden of Eden, or something inbetween.

Acting is mediocre to poor throughout. None of the cast seems interesting as anything more than a sterotypical Hollywood face of the generation, with the villainous city heathens overacting in every scene, leading to a rubber suit laden finale. The monster action, even at full strength, is uninspiring, and the film ends with a whimper instead of a bang.

Random Moments
The Verdict
Teenage Caveman is one of those movies that makes one feel bad about liking genre films. It makes you want to go rent whatever Sandra Bullock or Keanu Reeves just made and call it a night. It makes you look for chores around the house - laundry, dishes, anything - to do instead of watching it. It also makes you remember that, while you're currently thinking about bashing your head through a soft spot in the wall, there's a better idea for a midnight movie out there somewhere. And when it's over, and you realize that you've lived to see another 90 minutes, you feel stronger for doing so.

The tagline on the Teenage Caveman DVD reads "The Future Sucks". If you decide to watch this movie, you'll agree for those 89 minutes.

The Mike's Rating: RUN AWAY!

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