Neander-Jin: The Return of the Neanderthal Man’s Strained and Laughless Comedy


For similar reasons to why budget-stretching pioneer Roger Corman recently produced schlock called Piranhaconda and Dinoshark (but not that ripoff Sharknado), director-producer Florian Steinbiss’s German-set, largely German-cast comedy mixes genres with all the quality control of a fourth-grader dispensing every soda flavor into one cup. Co-starring as a professor and father, Steinbiss—who apparently grew up near the original Neander Valley fossil discovery—has no budget and even fewer laughs. Stiltedly filmed in English, Neander-Jin depicts the inexplicable modern-day materialization of a colossal-browed subspecies time-traveler (Jon Chardiet). There are broad, lazy bits about huckster opportunism, an activist beauty who loves the beast philanthropically and romantically, that old punching-bag reality television, and flatly delivered burbling from other screwball rubes. None of this holds a candle to Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner’s “2000 Year Old Man,” and even Encino Man had a brainier plot, but what’s most bizarre is that the entire production seems both lost in translation and inspired by unfinished ideas. Feature-length adaptations of SNL sketches have a long and storied tradition of being bloated or strained one-note disappointments, but at least they have brand recognition and talent attached.