Starring: Daniel Roebuck, Cynthia Thompson, Darren Young, Saba Moor-Doucette
“Look, you wouldn’t happen to know what century it is, would you? See, I’m lost, and you don’t speak any English, and how would you like to sit on my face?” (Rex, Cavegirl)
Ah, the ’80s. A more innocent time, a time when it was perfectly acceptable to make a movie in which a nerd went back in time and spent the entire length of the film trying to shag a cavegirl.
It’s probably safe to say this sort of shit wouldn’t fly these days, so let’s travel back to a time when neanderthal men thought with their knobs instead of their brains. Yes, I’m still talking about the ’80s.
Rex is a nerd. I’m not talking ‘really into Star Wars‘ nerdy or ‘has every issue of X-Men‘ nerdy. I’m talking ‘so into archaeology he builds plastic models of skulls’ nerdy.
Naturally, this means Rex is relentlessly bullied at school by a bunch of overblown caricatures who couldn’t be more eighties if they were teaching Bob Geldof how to solve a Rubik’s cube.
Rex’s school organises a class trip to a nearby cave. Naturally, Rex is thrilled, but his eagerness gets the better of him when, sneaking away to explore the cave on his own, he finds a mysterious crystal that sends him back in time.
Rex finds himself back in the stone age: land of cavemen, strange indecipherable languages, and sparkling white teeth for some reason.
There he meets Eba, a charming cavegirl with a smile that could make a lexovisaurus drop to its knees and thank God it was an armoured dinosaur that was part of the stegosauria family. See, these reviews are educational too.
Eba can’t speak a word of English (partly because England won’t exist for millions of years) so Rex decides he has a new mission, a new moral obligation.
No matter what it takes, Rex will teach Eba to speak his language so he can be the first modern person to ever communicate with a neanderthal. Then shag her.
Listen, don’t look at me like that. I didn’t make the bloody film. To quote fellow Scotsman Calvin Harris, it was acceptable in the ’80s.
Thirty years later, modern sensibilities give Cavegirl a slightly different vibe. Whereas before audiences were expected to root for Rex and hope he got his knob wet by the end of the film, these days it’s a bit uncomfortable watching what is essentially the idea of ‘man takes advantage of dumb girl’ taken to its most extreme degree.
Eba is initially only interested in Rex because he can seemingly generate fire out of nothing (he has a box of matches in his backpack). And, not tied down to the modern standards of what’s considered attractive, that’s enough to make her keen.
So, essentially, this guy is using fire in an attempt to get a pretty girl under the covers. Or whatever it is cavemen use for covers. ‘Onto the dirt’ would probably be more apt, I suppose.
And yet… there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on. For some reason, despite its clearly morally dubious plot, I still enjoyed Cavegirl and I don’t really know why.
It isn’t the humour. I’m reliably informed by the DVD box that this is supposed to be a comedy but its ‘jokes’ are about as funny as a beloved family member dying and not including you in their will.
It certainly isn’t the lead character. As I’ve already made clear, Rex is a bit of a scumbag and some of the things he says (case in point: the quote at the top of this review) aren’t so much “ha ha, what a rogue” as “fucking hell, can’t believe he just said that”.
And it definitely isn’t the plot. Even during the third act, when Eba and her tribe are attacked by cannibals and Rex is forced to use the items in his backpack to scare them off, interest levels remain consistently low.
So what is it? Well, in truly frustrating ‘shit review’ style, I really don’t know why I can’t resist adding an extra mark to the score below and rescuing it from the Hall Of Shame.
Maybe it’s (the sadly now late) Cynthia Thompson, who plays Eba. A relative unknown actress who only appeared in a handful of ’80s B-movies, she’s pretty bloody charming for a neanderthal, exuding a natural innocence that probably goes some way to contributing to it feeling wrong when Rex tries to hit on her.
Or maybe it’s the fantastically brutal ’80s soundtrack, filled with pop and dance songs that are so out of place in a caveman movie they can’t be anything but brilliant.
Whatever it is, if you somehow manage to stumble across Cavegirl, give it a go. It’s got something of a cult following so you never know, it might tickle your fancy. I have absolutely no idea why, but it ever so slightly tickled mine.
HOW CAN I SEE IT?
Cavegirl isn’t available in the UK but Americans can get it on standalone DVD. Alternatively, do what I did and get the Too Cool For School collection, a 12-movie set of presumably atrocious ’80s teen comedies (which, yes, will all be reviewed on That Was A Bit Mental in time).
SHOW ME THE TRAILER: