Movie Review: Year One

By Matthew Huntley

July 5, 2009

This is not quite as hot as Eyes Wide Shut, is it?

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Jack Black and Michael Cera are funny actors, but perhaps they're not so good at picking funny scripts — at least not this time around. Whenever a script calls for a character to consciously taste feces or urinate on himself, it's high time to toss it aside and move on, not least because it's been done before. Plus, and this is the more important reason, it's just not funny.

Those are the inherent problems with "Year One"—its situations are either recycled, mostly from the "Austin Powers" and "American Pie" movies, or they lack basic comic inspiration. The catch, I suppose, is the movie takes place during Biblical times and all the characters speak as if they're from the 21st century. Still, did the filmmakers think that was enough to freshen the material?

Black and Cera play Zed and Oh, a hunter and gatherer for a primordial tribe who are ostracized after Zed eats a piece of forbidden fruit, which, he claims, gives him great wisdom and precognition. If he had any real wisdom, he would have wandered into a different movie.

Zed and Oh embark on a journey across the earth to prove it doesn't end just over the hill. Along the way, they run into an assortment of biblical characters—Adam and Eve (Harold Ramis and Rhoda Griffis), Cain and Abel (David Cross and Paul Rudd), Abraham and Isaac (Hank Azaria and Christopher Mintz-Plasse)—and wind up on a mission to free themselves and others from slavery.


Ultimately, the movie is nothing more than a series of lame vignettes comprised of sex jokes, toilet humor and mildly amusing parodies on Bible history. The idea of giving B.C. figures modern day attitudes and dialects has potential (although Monty Python and The Simpsons did it already), but writer-director Harold Ramis and his three (count ‘em, three) other screenwriters run out of ideas way too fast. The movie quickly resorts to conventional gross-out humor that we've seen time and time again. Could they really not think of anything better?

I don't even think the movie's target audience will find it funny. As a comedy aimed at teenage boys, it has nothing new to offer. And if teenage boys won't find it funny, how did the filmmakers? Watch: a lot of teenagers will buy a ticket to "Year One" and then sneak into "The Hangover." I'm not saying that's right, but at least they'll be watching something that makes them laugh.



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