Main cast: Samuel L Jackson (Romulus Ledbetter), Colm Feore (David Leppenraub), Ann Magnuson (Moira Leppenraub), Damir Andrei (Arnold), Aunjanue Ellis (Officer Lulu Ledbetter), Tamara Tunie (Shelia Ledbetter), Peter MacNeill (Lieutenant Detective Jack Cork), Jay Rodan (Joey Peasley/No-Face), and Anthony Michael Hall (Bob)
Director: Kasi Lemmons
The Caveman’s Valentine tells the story of Romulus Ledbetter, a man that has lost touch with reality, trying to solve a mystery of a dead man left frozen on the tree outside his ramshackle shelter. Romulus believes that a great villain is living at the top floor of the Chrysler building and scheming to control the world using mind-control beams. His unplugged TV has shows that back up his conspiracy theories, even if his wife and his daughter has abandoned him and his paranoid ass a long time ago. So Romulus cleans up and infiltrates photographer David Leppenraub’s life, convinced that evil is afoot.
Unlike, say, the delightful TV series Monk, The Caveman’s Valentine and its unusual main character don’t work. Romulus starts out as a raving demented man, but out of the blue he cleans up using the help of friends that come out of deus ex machina land to conduct investigations. Romulus’s descent and reemergence from dementia have a carefully calculated timing that makes this movie feel artificial. The police ignores him on the whole, especially his police officer daughter Lulu, but they conveniently believe and support him when the plot requires them to.
The Caveman’s Valentine is watchable due to the manic energy of Samuel L Jackson as he revels in his role with a sly foul-mouthed joy that is infectious. But the plot is less intelligent than it is manic. This is one movie that is so intent on being quirky and funny that its forced efforts are rendered obvious to this viewer. The result is a far less enjoyable movie than it could have been.