National Lampoon Presents Homo Erectus


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Pretty much of a self-reviewing title.

This would fit in neatly with Sleeper and Love and Death in the category of "same old Brooklyn guy pictured in a different time and place." Writer/director/star Adam Rifkin is the Woody-wannabee as a bespectacled caveman who thinks that human beings could be so much more than troglodytes. He tries to persuade his fellow tribesmen that they could climb faster with a ladder or catch more fish with a net, but they reject those radical progressive ideas in favor of the way they have always climbed and fished, the way their gods intended. The plot centers around Cave-Rifkin's love for a pretty cavegirl. He loses her when he is just too conflicted about clubbing her and carrying her off. As the evolved Rifkin debates the moral rectitude of that action, his older, handsomer, stronger brother clubs the dream-girl unconscious, drags her off by the hair, and claims her as his own.

David Carradine plays Rifkin's father, the leader of the tribe, and Ali Larter is the cavegirl of Rifkin's dreams. Many familiar character actors make brief appearances. Gary Busey is in high Busey gear as the leader of a rival tribe. Tom Arnold is surprisingly funny as a gay caveman. Ron Jeremy has a line or two as a member of Rifkin's tribe. Talia Shire is in the cast as well, but must have really needed a paycheck, because she has little more than a bland cameo as Rifkin's mom.

As in many of Woody Allen's period films, the people in the past era speak exactly like the people at any current-day Manhattan bar or cocktail party, and essentially represent modern stereotypes (the handsome quarterback, the stoners, the crotchety old guy, and so forth) walking around in a pre-historic setting, like a live action version of The Flintstones.

It is a watchable comedy in my opinion, but barely so, and it's far too derivative of early Woody, minus the jazz music. Although Rifkin doesn't try to mimic Woody's voice or mannerisms, there is no question that he's playing a Woody role. There's even a classic Woodman scene where Rifkin's glasses fall off in a fight scene between two tribes, forcing him to crawl around half-blind, searching for the specs as the battle rages around him. In fact, it seems like the film could actually have been made in 1970, and it's almost disorienting to see Ali Larter acting in it because she wasn't even born by then. You may unconsciously wonder, "Shouldn't it be Angie Dickinson or Louise Lasser instead?" The film does have a few funny (if unsubtle) moments, but the whole project is just not thumbprinted with enough of Rifkin's own identity to make it memorable.

As far as I can see, National Lampoon contributed nothing to the project except their name.



* not yet available








No major reviews online.


3.6 IMDB summary (of 10)


No theatrical release in North America.


  • Several women show their breasts and merkin-covered crotches. None of them are the film's principals.


Our Grade:

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