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
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.