Year One

Release Date: June 19, 2009

Movie of the Day for Saturday, March 28, 2009
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How exactly does he make his face do that?

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161/169 Max Braden Slow and stupid doesn't win the race. This comes across like it was intended as a weird Bible primer.

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Year One boasts a roster of comedic talent that I’m sure any producer would kill for. Not only do you have Harold Ramis (writer and star of the original Ghostbusters movie as well as the producer, director and writer of one of my favorite comedies of all time, Groundhog Day), but you also have rising star Michael Cera and Mr. Kung Fu Panda himself, Jack Black.

It’s a formidable trio that make up the heart of this film, but I’m not sure how the ingredients will combine to form a Monty Python-inspired comedy set in Biblical times. Jack Black is more known for his in-your-face, take-no-prisoners brand of comedy while Cera excels at subtle, situational comedy that trusts in absurdity of a scene to draw laughs. And though Ramis has dabbled in commercially-successful humor (as evidenced in his participation with Analyze This and Analyze That), his recent comedies have spanned the genre from satire (Bedazzled with Elizabeth Hurley) to film noir (The Ice Harvest).

Which brings me back to my original question: how does this combination come together to tell the story of two lazy hunter-gatherers (Black and Cera) who get banished from their primitive village and set off on an epic journey through the ancient world of the Bible? Channeling Monty Python is no easy task – too light and you risk boredom, too heavy and you come off like a bad SNL sketch – and the disparate comedic abilities of Ramis, Black and Cera will either complement each other or appear like they got lost on the Columbia Pictures lot and somehow ended up on the same sound stage together.

If anyone’s up to the task of keeping all parties moving in the same direction, it’s the ever reliable Judd Apatow, who has the honor of serving as executive producer on Year One. Comedy runs in his blood and though he hasn’t been as successful with his broad comedies (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story jumps rather quickly to mind), Ramis, Black and Cera carry enough comedic firepower to save the day if he stumbles. (Jason Lee/BOP)

Vital statistics for Year One
Main Cast Jack Black, Michael Cera, Olivia Wilde
Supporting Cast Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Oliver Platt, David Cross, Vinnie Jones, Juno Temple, June Diane Raphael, Hank Azaria, Eden Riegel
Director Harold Ramis
Screenwriter Harold Ramis, Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg
Distributor Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Screen Count 3,022
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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