Synopsis: After being banished from their tribe, two hunter-gatherers encounter Biblical characters and eventually wind up in the city of Sodom.
Actors who rely on schtick tend to have short intense periods of popularity, before the act gets old and audiences find it dull and annoying. Jack Black has suffered from this in recent years, and Michael Cera may well find the same issue. The problem with Year One is that it relies almost entirely on the shtick of both actors to carry it through the lazy comedy.
Black and Cera play two members of a wood tribe who are still native hunter gatherers, Black is Zed, a terrible hunter who suffers from hubris and overconfidence and just wants to rebel. While Cera is Oh, a great gatherer who just wants to follow the rules and win over Zed’s sister Eema. When they are kicked out of their tribe for eating forbidden fruit they find themselves on a journey to the city of Sodom, meeting several biblical characters along the way.
Essentially Zed is a prehistoric version of Black’s go to character, with that same strained “bro” delivery. Similarly, Cera is essentially a prehistoric version of George Michael Bluth. And while I do love Cera’s style, there is only so many times I can watch him meekly mumble something while looking like a stuffed bird.
Aptly for a film set thousands of years ago, the jokes felt about the same age. For a comedy there is a distinct lack of laughs that don’t rely on poo and dick jokes. Hey, I love a poo joke. I am a purile man-child. But I need something more than that for 90 mins. It’s surprising given the presence of Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, who were key writers and producers on The US Office, wrote the screenplay. It seems as a result Harold Ramis, who was probably striving for a Mel Brooks style parody of the old 50’s style sword and sandals epics, relied on the popularity of Black and Cera and the slew of cameo from the likes of Hank Azaria, Paul Rudd and Christopher Mintz-Plasse to distract from the lack of laughs.
It’s a shame because when they are on their game all involved can be highly entertaining. Both Cera and Black have also proven recently that they are capable of diversifying, with Youth In Revolt and Bernie respectively. Unfortunately comedies need laughs, and in that department it was sorely lacking
Conclusion: It doesn’t bode well that the 45 seconds of outtakes at the end of the movie contain more laughs than the preceding 90 minutes. One for the back of the DVD collection
Director: Harold Ramis – The man who bought us Ghostbusters and Caddyshack. So can be forgiven for Year One and Analyse This
Writers: Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky – Responsible for shaping The US Office. Also did Cameron Diaz stinker Bad Teacher. Maybe should stick to TV;
Cast: Jack Black, Michael Cera, Juno Temple, Olivia Wilde, Oliver Platt, David Cross, Hank Azaria, June Diane Raphael, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Matthew Willig
- Stanley Tucci was cast to play the Biblical character Noah. After Evan Almighty failed at the box-office, Noah was cut from the film.