By Jack Rico
Rated: R for some sexual content and language.
Release Date: 2009-06-19
Starring: Harold Ramis, Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg
Official Website: http://www.yearone-movie.com/
‘Year One’ was a big yawner, actually, I’m being too nice, it’s competing with ‘Land of the Lost’ for worse movie of the year. The idea of Michael Cera playing a caveman is not funny, just bad, and once again I see myself writing a consistent review on Jack Black, “he has got to be one of the most annoying comedians in Hollywood”. The film has several funny moments at the beginning, but dies out halfway through. It has no real grasp of where its story is going; it feels lost and all over the place.
The premise of ‘Year One’ looked bad from the start – two cavemen buddies (Jack Black and Michael Cera) in ‘year one’ of Earth set their sites to explore the world and end up living the Genesis and subsequent chapters of the Holy Bible – well because of them, holy no longer.
Harold Ramis, one of the original Ghostbuster actors, has teamed up with Judd Apatow (who is producing) to direct this fragmented film which has to do more about the Bible and religious jokes than the primitive man. Indie director Kevin Smith, once experimented with the comical side of religion with a film called, ‘Dogma’ starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and it went nowhere fast at the box office. I wonder what will happen with this one? (exuding sarcasm).
I’ll be honest with you guys, religion isn’t everyone’s cup of joe and making someone laugh already is hard enough; combining the two can mean a recipe for disaster. Only Mel Brooks, Monty Python and some of the other greats have managed to do it well, but I’m not sure if anyone today can pull it off with success. Ramis sure didn’t and neither did Bill Maher with his ‘Religulous’. They were forgettable.
But to be fair, the acting wasn’t bad at all (except for vexing Jack Black), and the dialogue was funny at times. The problem, which is too troublesome to overcome, is the direction and pacing of the story along with the verisimilitude or implausibility of the adventures our protagonists go through. It distracts us from enjoying the funny moments.
When we interviewed Ramis for this review, he seemed like a hell of a nice guy. He possesses tremendous acumen about the history of film comedy and has an awareness of his place in it. That said, I don’t think he an Apatow seemed to be on the same page. Way too many flaws in the film for two very smart icons to get it wrong.
Nevertheless, ‘Year One’ isn’t what you’d expect from a Cera, Black comedy. They look out of place and the subject matter is tough to digest if you’re unfamiliar with the biblical texts. This film needs a rewrite and a recast really bad.