So many "serious" movies these days are no-brainers that a movie like "Encino Man" (citywide) is almost refreshing. At least it's upfront about being a no-brainer.
Is it as enjoyably dopey as "Wayne's World"? Not really. There's nothing here to match the ineffable nerdiness of Mike Myers' Wayne and Dana Carvey's Garth. Those guys are the Cheech and Chong for the cable-TV '90s generation--gee-whiz dudesters who jangle to each other's dorky rhythms. The difference between Wayne and Garth and an earlier subspecies of nerd is that they are self-aware enough to trick their nerdiness into a personal style.
The buddies in "Encino Man"--Dave (Sean Astin) and Stoney (played by MTV "personality" Pauly Shore)--are a clunkier duo. They're more like the typical "losers" of standard teen-pic fare; Dave pines for a high school heartthrob (Megan Ward) while Stoney, to the extent that his dude-speak can be deciphered, cooks up hare-brained schemes. Their luck changes when they accidentally excavate a caveman while digging out a pool in Dave's back yard. Unthawed and nicknamed Link (Brendan Fraser), their new discovery becomes their best buddy and protector.
The best joke in the movie is that Link, with his dreadlocked hair and grunty, subverbal good-naturedness, is automatically certified the buffest (i.e. coolest) guy in high school. Girls love him and bullies try to knock him down. His cave paintings are like ornate graffiti. In the prefab Valley culture, Link is hip because he's so elemental . He's marvelously unkempt, and his Neanderthal lope and glassy-eyed gaze connect him with a different variety of cave people--the hippies. Even though this movie conspicuously avoids any mention of drugs, Link--like Stoney--seems perpetually, blissfully high. They seem to communicate in a kind of goofball code that spans eons.