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Movies, Films and Flix Research – Encino Man (1992), Ice Blocks, and Lawn Mowers

May 26, 2022

I’m a big fan of the movie Encino Man (or California Man). It’s a breezy 88 minutes, Pauly Shore finds unexpected depth in his character, and Michael DeLuise is a perfect villain (SHOOOOOOSH!). As far as early 1990’s comedies go, it has enough memorable moments to stand out from the crowd and features a moment that caught my attention a few years ago while recording a podcast episode about the movie

While many people justifiably focus on how Link (Brendan Fraser) stayed preserved in an ice chunk for milenia, I was more impressed with how Dave (Sean Astin) and Stoney (Shore), two supposed dweeby suburb kids, were able to take a 1,000 pound block of ice out of a large hole, then transport to it a shed where they put it on wooden saw horses. If I ever found a 1,000 pound block of ice during my high school years, I wouldn’t have thought to create a pulley system using a swing set, metal slide, lawn mower, and loads of strong rope to pull it out of a large hole (that I dug). Dave and Stoney’s ingenuity and engineering skills are  admirable and even more impressive when you realize they spent zero dollars and only used household items to transport an ice block that “weighs a ton.”

The following is an overly long guide on how they completed their impressive mission. 

I’m assuming that the ice block weighs 1,000 pounds based on ice sculptures, online examples, and the fact that a human is inside it. I’m guessing the 6’2 Fraser weighed 185 pounds in 1992, so between his weight, and the ice chunk, 1,000 pounds is a safe guess. Also, if you take a look at this video you’ll see how much smaller blocks of ice can’t be carried by two people. 

Here’s the setup.

Characters

  • Dave Morgan (Sean Astin) – Suburban kid who thinks a swimming pool will solve all his problems. His sister Teena calls him a “disease” and tells him that “no one is going to swim in this stupid pool.” By digging the pool, he’s hoping to end his high school years on a high and become a legend. He’s kind of a wet noodle, who says things like “Robin Sweeney is mine,” even though she has a boyfriend and doesn’t want to go to prom with him. 
  • Stoney Brown (Pauly Shore) – A super chill guy who is totally fine being a “loser.” He’s the voice of reason for the two. For a high school kid, he actually sees things with surprising clarity. Also, he has a terrible home life as his mom is always “bummed” and he eats at Dave’s house because his mom never has any food in the house. 

Here’s the setup

  1. Dave digs an impressively deep hole in his backyard that will eventually be home to a swimming pool (dude only uses a shovel). 
  2. His digging is interrupted by an earthquake that unearths several Mousterian bowls, cave drawings, and a large piece of ice that has a caveman inside of it.  
  3. Dave tries to tell his mom. But she’s a mom in a 1990s film so she totally ignores him. 
  4. Instead of calling the proper authorities, Dave and Stoney decide to stash the ice block in Dave’s shed so they can make some money.
  5. That night, they transport the 1,000 pound ice block into Dave’s backyard shed.
  6. They rig up four heaters and blow dryers to melt the ice block. No fuses blow…

The following is an examination of how Dave and Stoney pulled off the impressive feat. 

  1. After finding the ice chunk, Dave and Stoney come up with a solid impromptu plan.
  2. They wrap the ice chunk with a cloth and tie it up with a strong rope. They either roll the ice block onto a sheet and tie it up, or they use a pulley system to lift it up. Either way, they had to wrap and tie up an extremely heavy ice chunk. Not an easy job.
  3. They move the swing set to the deep end of the hole, and take off the slide. They place the slide inside the deep end of the pool to use as a ramp. The good news is the slide seems to be made of durable metal. 
  4. They use the rest of the rope to create a pulley system.
  5. They use the swing set and a lawn mower to pull the ice block up the slide. I appreciate how they use the part of the swing with the ladder attached. This allows it to hold more weight.

Part 2 – They take the ice block to the shed.

  1. Moving the ice block 40-50 feet couldn’t have been easy. 
  2. They must’ve found some logs and rolled Link towards the shed. The two couldn’t carry the ice block, and a wheelbarrow doesn’t seem likely. That’s why the log option seems like the best bet. 
  3. They needed the lawnmower, 4-5 logs, and rope. I don’t think they dragged it because the next day there are no signs of any indentations on the ground. Sliding a 1,000 pound object leaves a trace. I suppose they could’ve used an outdoor broom to sweep the marks away, but that doesn’t make much sense. It’s possible skateboards could’ve been involved, but Dave doesn’t seem like a skateboard kid
  4. By this point, they are a well-oiled machine

Part 3 – They somehow lift a 1,000 chunk of ice onto two wooden saw horses. 

*Note – I’m not sure why they put the ice block on saw horses. Imagine if Link’s head melts first and his head/neck are crushed/broken when the ice block falls to the floor. It might’ve been easier to leave it on the ground. However, their plan worked, the surface air was increased which exposed it to more heat and allowed it to melt faster, so they must know something I don’t.

  1. They unwrap the ice block and hope that the melting ice doesn’t make it slip and slide while they put it on the sawhorses. 
  2. The sawhorses are legit. I researched similar styles and they could easily hold 1,000 pounds.
  3. Call me crazy, but lifting one end onto one sawhorse, then lifting the other, seems unlikely. I suppose they could’ve melted a portion of the ice, created a groove, and placed the sawhorse under it. However, lifting the other side would be a beast. The ceiling of the shed looks to be made up of 2x4s. So, they could’ve used those and a pulley to get leverage. It’s not impossible, it just takes a decent amount of planning to lift a 1,000 pound item onto sawhorses when you don’t have proper gear. It’s impressive that it didn’t slip and slide. 
  4. They set up four heaters and a blow dryer to expedite the melting. 

Final thought – The most amazing part of Encino Man isn’t the caveman. Also, between Son in Law (listen to this podcast episode here. It’s a fun one), and In the Army Now, Pauly Shore has an impressive set of skills that allow him to hack computers, make amazing purified water (1:50 in clip), and move a 1,000 pound block of ice into a shed. 

Final Final thought – What’s interesting about this trilogy of films is that Link (Brendan Fraser) pops up in all three of them. This means that Stoney (Encino Man), Crawl (Son in Law) and Bones (In the Army Now) are either triplets or clones. What does Link think about all of this? I know they are cheeky cameos, but it raises a lot of questions about how many Pauly’s there are in the Pauly Shore Cinematic Universe (PSCU)

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