In Year One, Jack Black and Michael Cera star as a hunter and gatherer who set out on an adventure beyond their tribe's lands and discover a cruel but hilarious world inspired by early biblical times. Unfortunately, the movie is a complete disaster.
When previews started popping up for Year One around the Super Bowl, it became crystal clear that Year One was either going to be really funny or downright horrible. Three minutes into the film, I was laughing quite a bit; by ten minutes in, I realized there was a long way to go. Once the movie's one joke runs dry (that one joke is the typical awkwardness of Cera and the schizophrenic excitement of Black), it's a quite spiral to a fiery place.
As soon as the movie shifts from a comedy about cavemen to one that parodies various bible stories, Year One is lost. It's not that I'm offended by bible spoofs; I'm an atheist and would love to see some authentic comedy based upon these stories, but Year One fails miserably in that attempt. Aside from the fact that the writers attempt to bridge different time periods, the comedy is just hideously bad. Though it's amusing to see Paul Rudd, David Cross, Bill Hader, Vinnie Jones and others appear throughout the film, their near-cameo appearances are hardly worth slogging through this mess. And yet, the writers, led by Harold Ramis, seem to have thought that this would exactly be the trick that makes Year One work.
Cera, if you're a fan of Cera, is funny enough, but his shtick grows old surprisingly quickly. Black loses his luster even quicker; I've never been a huge fan, but he is shockingly unfunny here. Those who have enjoyed Christopher "McLovin'" Mintz-Plasse in such films as Superbad and Role Models will be disappointed to learn that he is completely wasted here, as is Hank Azaria. The only supporting cast member who enhances the film is Oliver Platt, who plays a ridiculously over-the-top and homosexual high priest.
There's not much else to say about Year One other than that it is one of the most ambitiously unfunny comedies in recent memory. It starts off great, but almost immediately loses its way. It's amazing that this film ever made it to theaters.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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