Caveman (Carl Gottlieb, 1981)
Caveman was a favorite of mine in the junior-high days, so when it popped up on Netflix Instant, I figured I’d give it another go and see if it was still as much fun as I remembered it being. I doubt it will surprise anyone that the answer is “no”, but I admit to a great deal of bias here, and I’m probably not going to paint the movie being anywhere near as awful as it actually is; you have been warned.
Plot: Atouk (Ringo Starr—yes, that Ringo Starr) is the runt of his tribe, but that doesn’t stop him from lusting after Lana (The Black Belly of the Tarantula‘s Barbara Bach), consort of the tribe’s leader, Tonda (The Goonies‘ John Matuszak). Fast-forward through a series of misadventures that gets Atouk thrown out of the tribe and hooks him back up with Lar (Dennis Quaid), one of the few members of his former tribe who actually liked him, but had been left for dead after a dinosaur attack. Atouk and Lar slowly build up their own tribe of outcasts, misfits, and wanderers, including Tala (the second feature-film appearance for Second City TV alumna Shelley Long). Atouk and Tala grow close…but close enough to derail Atouk’s singular goal of winning Lana?
Saying “it’s a Hollywood historical rom-com from the eighties” should be more than enough to drive you away, though with the understanding that I’m going kinda loose on “historical” there. But you get the idea. Inane toilet humor abounds, the romance plot is entirely predictable, etc. But there are three things about this movie that might make you want to watch it: (1) Jim Danforth’s stop-motion dinosaur effects are a lovely, and effective, tribute to the golden age of Hollywood. (2) Lalo Schifrin’s infectious main title theme will get stuck in your head for months on end. (3) Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach actually did end up together—with the result that both of them effectively retired from feature films not long after they got married (though Starr, of course, had a long and successful career on the Thomas the Tank Engine/Shining Time Station TV show). Starr and Bach both last appeared on the big screen in 1986’s To the North of Katmandu (though as I write this IMDB lists Starr as having a cameo in a 2013 production that’s still filming). And if that isn’t a reason to celebrate this movie, I don’t know what is. **