Cavemen: Film Review

Tired genre conventions bog down this formulaic rom-com.

An aspiring screenwriter fails to recognize his one true love in Herschel Faber's romantic comedy.

The central character in writer-director Herschel Faber’s romantic comedy is an aspiring screenwriter slaving away on a romantic comedy. We see the results of both efforts, creating even more of a deja vu feeling than the strenuously formulaic Cavemen has already induced from its opening moments. Opening along with a slew of other rom-coms timed for the period leading up to that ultimate date night of Valentine’s Day, the film will be lucky to hang around in theaters until then.

Cliches abound, from the depiction of a group of young L.A. men engaging in countless hook-ups to the main character who somehow fails to recognize that his gorgeous best friend is his true love to his learning life lessons from his nine-year-old nephew to his attempt to frantically chase her down as she threatens to disappear from his life forever in a speeding taxi. The filmmaker has clearly invested a considerable amount time doing research by watching countless chick flicks.

The story concerns Dean (Skylar Astin), who lives with his trio of male friends, including the boorish and misogynistic Jay (Chad Michael Murray), in a large loft that they’ve dubbed … wait for it … "The Cave.” Much of the early proceedings concern the shallow love lives of the quartet, including the perennially womanizing Jay, the cheating Andre (Dayo Okeniyi) and Pete (Kenny Wormald), and the more sensitive Dean, who has a long-standing booty call arrangement with the sexy Sara (Megan Stevenson).

While working on his screenplay inspired by his and his friends’ romantic misadventures that unaccountably attracts the attention of a boozing agent (a slumming Jason Patric, clearly paying off a favor), Dean finds himself longing for a more emotionally satisfying relationship. The solution, of course, is staring him right in the face, in the form of his beautiful friend Tess (Camille Belle), who despite her obvious good sense makes the mistake of hooking up with Jay.

The screenplay does feature some clever touches, such as Dean’s frequently receiving romantic advice from a subway car conductor over the loudspeaker. But every comparative moment of originality is offset by such tired devices as a lengthy montage depicting a series of horrifically awkward first dates (never seen that one before).

Murray manages to mine some humor from his character’s boorish behavior; Belle is, as usual, luminous; and Astin is boyishly appealing as the hapless protagonist. But Cavemen has absolutely nothing fresh to say about its subject, and its tired genre conventions wouldn’t pass muster on a Fox sitcom.

Production: Fascination Films, Traverse Media Productions

Cast: Skylar Astin, Camilla Belle, Chad Michael Murray, Alexis Knapp, Dayo Okeniyi, Kenny Wormald

Director-screenwriter: Herschel Faber

Producers: Cole Payne, Joe Fogel, Herschel Faber

Executive producers: Kurt David Anderson, John Michaels, John Wynn, Reza Mirroknian

Director of photography: Nic Sadler

Production designer: Ashley Cole

Costume designer: Denia Skinner

Editor: Robert Schafer

Music: Ronen Landa

No rating, 87 minutes