God bless Harold Ramis. He’s certainly given us some of the most classic comedies of all time, including National Lampoon’s Vacation, Caddyshack and Groundhog’s Day, but after seeing his latest, Year One, I can honestly say that I never want to see him go near a camera again.
Year One tells the chronologically confused tale of two cavemen named Zed and Oh (Jack Black and Michael Cera) who after being expelled from their tribe, embark on a journey that leads them through biblical history. They witness the divisive split of Cain and Abel, they see Abraham about to sacrifice his son Isaac and they head into what is allegedly Sodom (of “and Gomorrah” fame) but some reason it’s being guarded by Spartans with a Roman Centurion leading them. Someone call the costume department.
But complaining about the screwed up timeline of the movie would be like saying that Caddyshack didn’t accurately portray the skill and dedication that goes into golf, so that’s not Ramis’s issue here. The movie simply is not funny, and is one endless string of lowest common denominator fart and dick jokes, interspersed with the occasional awkward shuffling of Michael Cera.
Cera actually brings the only laughs found in the movie, with a well timed stutter or a lingering awkward silence. For as long as his voice doesn’t change (and it seems it never will since he’s 21), he’ll forever be America’s awkward boy next door, playing the same character with different lengths of hair whatever movie he’s in.
Michael Cera doing anything while painted gold is inherently a little funny.
But words cannot describe just how much I hate Jack Black’s performance in this movie. Maybe it’s because I’ve never appreciated his Chris-Farley-plus-heavy-metal-minus-funny style of nearly all physical comedy. Orange County was a tragedy, it’s a mystery why he was even in King Kong and he was the only weak link in Tropic Thunder. School of Rock was OK. But in Year One, he’s allowed to unleash completely, and he’s playing a full-on caricature of himself with involves a lot of farting and suggestive gyrating while you’re trying to ignore the nonsense that’s coming out of his mouth.
The two are an “unlikely pair” I suppose, but the writing of the film is so abysmal, it never had a chance. And that’s further evidenced when you look at the full cast roster. There are so many excellent comedians in this movie you could fill an entire NFL roster with them. There’s David Cross as Cain, Paul Rudd as Abel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Isaac, Hank Azaria as Abraham. We could stop there, but let’s throw in Bill Hader, Oliver Platt, Xander Berkeley, Horatio Sanz, Kyle Gass, Paul Scheer, Vinnie Jones and Olivia Wilde for good measure. The most fun part of the movie is playing “spot the celebrity,” rather than actually listening to any of the “jokes.”
So if anything, Year One has proven that in the comedy world, quantity does not equal quality. Not by a long shot. They could have thrown Seth Rogen, Steve Carrell, Eddie Murphy and Billy Crystal in there, and you would still have a horrendous movie that desperately wants to be Life of Brian.
And the worst part is, it’s honestly not a bad concept. But with a script written in roughly forty five minutes over a fifth of Jack and a box of Ho-Hos, Year One never had a chance.
1 out of 5 stars
But what’s most upsetting is that filming this movie got him this close to Olivia Wilde.