1992 was a great year for my high school best friend. She was dealing with a serious Brendan Fraser obsession, you see, and that year saw the release of both School Ties and Encino Man. Because I'm such a good friend, I supported the obsession (it also help that it was summer, and there was seriously nothing to do): I went with her to see the former at a dollar theater every day for a freaking week, and agreed to sit with her and watch the latter, despite the already-odious presence of Pauly Shore.

The thing is, though, that as time went by, my complaining about repeated viewings of Encino Man decreased, while I began to bellyache about having to watch School Ties (Honestly, there's only so much silliness that even Matt Damon and Randall Batinkoff can get you through). And when Encino Man comes on cable, even now? I watch it. I realize most of you aren't going to believe this, but I've realized something: it's a good movie. Seriously! And what it lacks in quality, it makes up for in heart -- I honestly can't think of another movie that so convincingly -- and unexpectedly -- sells the seriousness of friendship and a "Be yourself, dammit!" message without either pandering or sacrificing the silly humor that makes the whole thing work. When Brendan Fraser thaws out, see, he may be an Unfrozen Caveman Teen, but he's also a totally cool kid named Link, and loser Dave (the pre-Hobbit, post-VirginSean Astin) plans to ride his new friend's popularity (he's sold as an exchange student from Estonia) to the top of the cool world. His bestest bud Stoney (yes, that's Pauly), however, is pissed, and calls Dave out when he tries to wash his hands of Link just because the whole Everyone Loves Dave Because He's Friends with Link thing just isn't working out. If I'm being honest here, I'll tell you that the big friendship confrontation (in the middle of a deserted road, Stoney astride his goofy scooter  ... sniff) still has the power to bring tears to my eyes. But, since that'd be to embarrassing to admit, I'll just say that it's surprisingly powerful, and possessing of a purity that you'd never in a million years expect from Pauly Shore.

And if touching doesn't work for you, the movie is funny as hell, and has given me lines to recite internally for the rest of my life (or at least until dementia strikes). Not only do I know how to say "The cheese is old and moldy" in Spanish, but I also can no longer walk into a convenience store without thinking "Two minutes," and "Kashmir, Rajneesh -- make up your melons!" And no, that's not a curse. Call it a Shore-Style blessing.

People, I'm not lying here. You need to see the damn movie.
categories Features, Cinematical