Review: ‘Cavemen’ is a romantic comedy with no romance (or comedy)

Camilla Belle gets wooed by Skylar Astin in "Cavemen." Credit: Wellgo USA
Camilla Belle gets wooed by Skylar Astin in “Cavemen.”
Credit: Wellgo USA

Director: Herschel Faber
Stars: Skylar Astin, Camilla Belle
Rating: NR
2 (out of 5) Globes

A predictable and undemanding romantic comedy, “Cavemen” has one character equating getting laid with fulfilling one of man’s primal needs. Yes, the film posits, sex is great, but it insists love is better. If writer/director Herschel Faber’s film teaches anyone this point, then they probably needed to learn it.

However, most viewers will find very little of substance in this shallow comedy, which features an attractive cast, some stylish locations, and, well, little else. The innocuous “Cavemen” never reaches the crude comic heights a film about four sex-craving males might. Nor is it romantic enough to charm viewers. It has no vitality, despite the fact that all the characters talk about “E,” their shorthand for energy.

Dean (a bland Skylar Astin) is a 20-something would-be screenwriter in Los Angeles. He works as a bartender to pay rent on the warehouse loft he shares with his three best friends. Jay (a charismatic Chad Michael Murray) is the lothario, who tells racy stories of his sexual conquests. Pete (Kenny Wormald) has an on-again/off-again relationship with Beth (Amanda Jane Cooper), and Andre (Dayo Okeniyi) sometimes cheats on his girlfriend back east. The guys are always out on the prowl, but Dean, who once had a flirtation with Tess (Camilla Belle), is suddenly tired of being single. A series of awkward dating scenes that exhaust Dean — and viewers — emphasize that he needs a RELATIONSHIP. Yet once Dean starts dating Kat (Alexis Knapp), he realizes he really loves Tess, except she is now dating Jay.

“Cavemen” uses two extremely clunky narrative devices to chronicle Dean’s getting of wisdom. One involves him babysitting for his wise-beyond-his-years nephew who asks him about sex, love and masturbation. The other has Dean pitching his screenplay about his love life to an agent, Jack Bartlett (a slumming Jason Patric).

Faber always goes for the painfully obvious. Dean not only can’t commit to a girl, he is reluctant to buy a car because owning a vehicle would mean committing to L.A. Besides, a lousy running joke has Dean riding the subway and getting relationship advice from the conductor. At one point in “Cavemen,” Andre talks about having a perfect romantic moment, which suggests Dean will too. Alas, it never comes.


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