Caveman

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I worked at Yellowstone national park for a summer in college. When my mom came to visit me we decided to go to see this little town just outside of the main gates where there were some touristy shops and an IMAX theater. The timing worked out so that the movie that was playing at the most convenient time was called Yellowstone: The Movie. Before the first scene was over I realized how dumb it was to see Yellowstone: The Movie while I was living in Yellowstone: The Place. You see, the first scene took place in pre-history and was a re-enactment of what cave-life would have been like for early North American settlers. Blown up on an IMAX screen the sound stage they built the set on looked cheap and terrible, especially given that I had actually been to caves like that in recent memory.

Given that experience was it’s pretty remarkable that Caveman made a run for the crown of "worst cave-dweller related movie I've ever seen." There's a lot about this movie that's terrible. A lot of the vignettes are about how cavemen accidentally discovered a lot of humanity's most important inventions, like music or fire, but once you've seen the first vignette all the rest are cookie cutter repeats that telegraph the punch line way too early. Then there’s the multiple scenes where people get dumped into giant poops. That suggests a juvenile tone that wouldn't annoy me so much except that there's a lot of openly sexual stuff between Ringo Starr and a female cavewoman in a push up animal skin bra. In fact, at one point Ringo Starr feeds his crush magic berries and then tries to hump her while she's asleep and that's a terrible message to put in a movie that feels like it's aimed at kids.

That said, I cannot give the bad cave-dweller crown to Caveman because it has a secret weapon that a documentary about a state park does not have: access to dinosaurs. And not just any dinosaurs: really awesome claymated dinosaurs. They all have these crazy googly eyes which make their every expression both hilarious and endearing. They move like they're drunk, which is basically ideal for a shaggy comedy like this. It's really night and day between the prehistoric beasts and the cavemen: every time the dinosaurs are on screen they have a gentleness that the more sexualized parts of the human stories lack; their overselling of the jokes had a novelty that the actor's mugging lacked; their faces make them naturally seem dumb, as opposed to the human actors, who are just playing dumb.

In fact, I liked the dinosaurs so much that I kind of wish this was "Caveosaur" and not "Caveman". I understand that they might have worn out their welcome as the star in a way that they didn't when they were just a feature, but they brightened the screen so much every time they appeared that I couldn't help but wish for them to appear more and more often. They singlehandledly ensured that Yellowstone: The Movie remains as the worst cave-dweller related movie I've ever seen, because as much as I like waterfalls and geysers, I've never looked at one of them and gone "why aren't they getting more screen time?"

Winner: Draw

Caveman on IMDB