Year One – Review

Worse then advertised

Year One Poster
Image Courtesy of IMPawards.com

Director: Harold Ramis
Notable Cast:
Michael Cera, Jack Black, Oliver Platt, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Cross, Juno Temple, June Diane Raphael, Bill Hader, Paul Rudd, Hank Azaria

Comedy is one of the few genres in the last 10 years that has significantly increased in quality. So when a truly putrid comedy arrives in theatres it stands out like a sore thumb. And if Year One was an injured thumb, it’d need to be amputated.

Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) are hunter-gatherers in Biblical times. When Zed is expelled from their tribe, and Oh leaves with him after Zed accidentally burns his hut to the ground, the two embark on a road trip that takes them through Biblical times in what is intended as a farce ends up being one of the more painful comedies of the last decade. And it shouldn’t be, given the talent provided.

The problem begins with the fact that the best performances involved end up being glorified cameo roles. The bulk of the film revolves around Jack Black and Michael Cera doing nothing but material they’ve done better in other films. Black is known for being a wild, crazy guy with delusions of grandeur and Cera has the nerdy, awkward teenager shtick down cold and both don’t do anything beyond that. The material they’re given is remarkably weak to begin with and neither really seem to infuse it with anything to make it funny. It gets painful at times to watch because neither actor is funny. Both are outside their wheelhouse as well; both are terrific supporting actors who can steal scenes (Black especially) but when given unfunny material and no one who actually is funny to play off of they wear out their welcome early and it becomes cinematic torture the more they’re on screen.

It doesn’t help that the vast majority of humor scrapes the bottom of the barrel as if it were high-brow comedy at its peak. If one enjoys jokes involving bodily functions that most kindergarteners enjoy than one is in luck as the film treats comedy involving the breaking of wind and human excrement as the peak of cinematic gags. The film’s one bright spot, Hank Azaria as Abraham about to sacrifice his son Isaac (Christopher “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse). Azaria brings a hilarious comic sensibility to it, treating it as if it were Shakespeare, that elevates the film for the brief moment he is in it. It’s a bright spot in an otherwise disastrous film.

Year One had perhaps one of the worst trailers of the year and lent itself to one of two things. The first was that all the best gags were left in the movie, ala The Hangover, and the resulting movie would be a 21st century companion to the Monty Python gem The Life of Brian. The other was that the best gags were in the trailer and the film would be awful. The second feeling is the more accurate one as Year One has a shot at being perhaps the worst film of the year.

FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):

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