National Lampoon's Stoned Age
Like many film buffs out there I watch a lot of movies. Some are among the greatest representations of the art form of cinema ever seen. Others are passable as entertainment but little else. Then there are the flicks that just pain silly, juvenile and witless. Many in this last category are comedies that are made just to provide a few laughs for the audience. ‘National Lampoon's Stoned Age’ is an example of that last category. It is, to say the lease, stupid. The jokes are on the level of those told in third grade back when milk shooting out of the nose of a classmate was the height of humor. The thing is there is a piece of that child that remains deep within us long after we become adults. A movie like depends on drug, alcohol and crude sexual humor. This typically precludes the members of the audience that have they more highly developed double X chromosome set; the ladies. The target demographic is basically high school boys and guys in college ad more times than not they are in the same state of psychotropic chemical alternation as depicted in the flick. The secondary audience is much broader; men who can channel that third grade appreciation of gross out humor without the chemical modification. Make not doubt about it fellows this is not a date movie. Do not attempt to make your wife or girlfriend watch it with you. Wait until they are visiting their families and the game is rained out when you have the guys over for some beer and pizza. National Lampoon was once one of the best and most cutting edge satire magazines around. It was brilliant with the way it would spoof every aspect of our culture. I was an avid reader back in the seventies and miss its wit. Now the name National Lampoon has become a brand name. It stands for this type of puerile flick and the franchise is going stronger than ever. Perhaps one of the reasons is the time that we live in. As an adult we have to go to work and come home to watch the news. There we see the economy in the dumps, war raging around the globe and the threat of terrorism increasing daily. Sometimes you just have to chuck it all and go back to that simpler time on the school yard. A flick like this is not great and barely can be described as good but it serves an important function; escapism. As is the case with most of the current National Lampoon series the DVD is released through Paramount.
Writing and directing this flick is Adam Rifkin who also stars in the production. As a writer he has a number of comedies of this sort including ‘Small Soldiers’ and more recently ‘Underdog’. Admittedly both are more family friendly than this one. He throws caution to the wind with this movie and the result is definitely not family friendly. This is basically a run of the mill teen stoner comedy with a hook. That twist is it is set in prehistoric times. It is as if Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble as teenaged druggies looking for a buxom cave girl. You have to give Rifkin a little credit for a novel approach. I don’t recall ever seeing this hackney story played out in cave man times. This also opens up the field for jokes about primitive man trying to invent things we take fro granted. It also allows for a further reduction in the intelligence of the humor which is already down to the nadir of humor. This methodology is actually fairly well employed in the past. It is a fish out of water story. You have an established character that we have all seen numerous times only in high school or a frat house. Placing him in a cave just alters the location and permits the fundamental humor to persist. There is nothing subtle about this story. It hits you over the head like the proverbial cave man with a club. When you consider that the audience is not most likely not inclined to think a lot while watching the flick I suppose things work out.
As the director Rifkin did a passable job. His experience in the big chair consists mostly of variations on the comedy genres; action comedies, horror comedies etc. the main job of a director here is to provide a semblance of order to the endeavor and keep the jokes coming as fast as possible. If the audience doesn’t like one there has to be another following within a few seconds. You can tell that Rifkin was heavily influenced by the sex farce comedies of the seventies. There is a similar wild abandon for making sense and a resolve to he happy if you get a cheap laugh or two.
Rifkin plays a young cave man named Ishbo. He is a radical member of his tribe constantly trying to devise new methods for the basic chores required by his group. He comes up with techniques to help increase the success rate of the tribes fishing by using a primitive net or climb more efficiently with a make shift ladder. His inventions are regarded as foolish and unnecessary by the adults. Ishbo’s detractors include his own father, Mookoo (David Carradine) who is the leader of the pack. No matter what periond of time you are considering a young man’s fancy will turn towards a beautiful young woman. This is true for Ishbo who wants nothing more than impress the lovely Fardart (Ali Larter. To be honest skin garb has not looked this good since the 1966 cave man fest ‘One Million Years BC’ with a fur bikini clad Raquel Welch. Another plot device that has lasted throughout time is the romantic triangle. The fair Fardart only has eyes for Ishbo’s older and more cave manly brother Thudnik (Hayes MacArthur. Put the characters in jeans and tee shirts and move the location to Los Angles and it will still be very much the same. Fardart just thinks of Ishbo as a silly boy who likes to make useless toys. All of this comes to a boil when a rival tribe starts to build up for a war with Ishbo’s people. It is up to Ishbo to come up with some idea that will ensure his tribe will prevail and hopefully prove himself to his tribe, his tribe and most importantly the young woman.
One thing about Paramount; they tend to give you money’s worth even with a lightweight flick like this. The technical specifications are excellent and there are more than the usual number of extras provided to try to keep the laughs coming after the movie is over. This is a popcorn flick so expect to be grossed out.