Herschel Faber’s Cavemen observes four navel-gazing roomies navigating the Los Angeles dating world. In their warehouse-converted loft, the self-absorbed twentysomethings share little privacy and even less interesting conversation beyond their crass history of sexual conquests. At the center of the foursome is Dean (Skylar Astin), a semi-sensitive soul who fuels his self-pitying romantic idealism into a screenplay by day and looks for authentic love alongside his bros—among them Jay (Chad Michael Murray), the pseudo-philosophizing second coming of Vince Vaughn’s loathsome Swingers character—in various nightclubs by night.
The film’s plot is essentially strung together with repetitive chit-chats about the power of “E,” which stands for attentive energy directed at women, and Dean’s struggle to conceive a screenplay based on the kind of love that he’s yet to actually experience. Even for all its earnestness about finding romance in modern metropolitan society, Cavemen is unable to make any original observations about the man-eat-girl world that it fatuously depicts. It indulges a certain cheeky self-awareness, as many scenes that Dean writes come to life in his interactions with women, but instead of subverting the conventions of the romantic comedy, the film only reinforces the tired tropes of the genre—as in Dean falling for his best girlfriend (Camilla Belle) and chasing down her cab with flowers in hand.
Worse, though, than the film’s cringe-inducing, self-reflexive pandering is Faber’s sharing of his male characters’ misogyny, as he never challenges their trite reduction of women to stereotypes, as in a scene where two potential Indian hookups are flippantly dismissed as “the sexy one and her hairy friend.” A rather regressive take on contemporary romantic lifestyles, Cavemen is an apt title considering how the sensibility and maturity of the film’s characters don’t seem to have developed beyond primal, alpha-man impulses.
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