June 20, 2009
Review - " Year One " - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by Harold Ramis
Starring: Jack Black, Michael Cera, Juno Temple,
Olivia Wilde, June Diane Raphael, Oliver Platt, David
Cross, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Hank Azaria, Paul
Rudd, Harold Ramis, Jason Segal, Bill Hader
Making a solid summer comedy starring Jack Black,
Michael Cera, David Cross and Hank Azaria should
be so easy, a caveman could do it. Despite the
presence of those reliable actors and the highly
advanced skills of comic veterans Harold Ramis and
Judd Apatow behind the scenes, "Year One"
manages to be a dud.
Watching comedy legend Harold Ramis (the geniuus
behind such greats as Grounhog Day, Caddyshack,
Ghostbusters, Animal House & Stripes) sink to the
desperate humor exemplified by Year One is
possibly the most depressing experience of the year. Equallydepressing is the level of comedic talent he coaxes into
appearing in it. Besides stars Jack Black and Michael Cera, they number almost too many to name in one breath. When you
have a powerhouse performer like David Cross/Hank Azaria/Oliver Platt/Bill Hader/Paul Rudd/Jason Segal/Gabriel
Sunday/McLovin in your corner, you don't get to skate by with as few laughs as they produce here. And laughs constitute the
only reasonable standard by which a project like Year One can be judged. It looks like Jonah Hill is the only Apatow alum
smart enough to stay away from this one.
Black and Cera don't stray much from the personalities they seem to have compiled throughout their acting careers. Black
plays an over-acting idiot, with outrageous one-liners. Even under the best circumstances Black’s manic screen persona can
be annoying. Cera plays the mild, passive-aggressive, sensitive dude with an extra spice of attitude. What Cera is missing
here is a great co-lead to play off of (Ellen Page in Juno, Jonah Hill for Superbad, and Kat Dennings in Nick and Norah's
Infinite Playlist). Blacks over-the-top personality just seems to overpower poor Michael.
The movie begins with Black's character, Zed, a hunter from a tribe. Zed takes a bite from the forbidden fruit and is banished
from his tribe. His buddy, Oh played by Cera, tags along and the adventure begins. That banishment sends them on the
road, where they meet several characters from Old Testament stories. The boys meet Abraham (Hank Azaria) and his
unfortunate son Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) as well as Cain (David Cross) and Abel (Paul Rudd), finally ending up in
the ancient city of Sodom.
Zed is convinced that he is some sort of gift from God and convinces the people he meets along the way of the same. Zed
and Oh's tribe gets kidnapped and the rest of the movie is an effort to save their loves (played by Juno Temple and June
Diane Raphael). The two encounter many different groups on their adventure through the ancient world. They are
introduced to things like circumcising, gay people and whores, ideas that they were unfamiliar with.
"Year One" in a nut shell is nothing short of toilet humor. The flick uses piss and poop as well as crude sexual innuendo
rather than any real humor. The effect is more vomit inducing that funny. The movie takes gross and unexpected turns in
every direction. From licking poop, to sacrificing sons, to burning virgins for rainfall, there is no explanation for any of it.
To quote Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News "the one person who'll be happy after walking out may be Will Ferrell,
since Land of the Lost is no longer the only turkey around."
With a PG13 rating there's no nudity so you'll have to walk out - but if you spend the time and energy to go see this film stay
to the very end - the funniest bits are the bloopers played along with the credits.