- Rated PG-13
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All photos © Sony Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
riter/director/actor Harold Ramis has had a hand in creating some of the most memorable comedies of the last three decades – a list that includes “Animal House,” “Caddyshack,” “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Ghostbusters” and “Groundhog Day” – but it appears that his magic touch is long gone. Though his last few films haven’t exactly lived up to the legacy of his golden years, they would likely be considered masterpieces when compared to the epic fail that is “Year One.” This is a movie that doesn't just ask its stars to say stupid things, but do stupid things as well – like eating shit or pissing on their own face – and if that isn't enough to turn you off, read on.
Jack Black stars as Zed, an incompetent hunter for a prehistoric tribe who’s exiled when he takes a bite of forbidden fruit in the hopes that it will enlighten him. Joining him is his only friend, Oh (Michael Cera), an equally incompetent gatherer whose sole mission in life is to woo the beautiful Eema (Juno Temple). When the rest of the tribe (including Eema and Zed’s crush, Mya, played by June Diane Raphael) are kidnapped and sold into slavery, Zed and Oh set off on a cross-country journey to rescue the women they love. Along the way, they witness the accidental death of a farmer named Abel (Paul Rudd), or so says his villainous brother Cain (David Cross); rescue a boy named Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) from sacrifice at the hands of his father Abraham (Hank Azaria); and eventually wind up in the city of Sodom just in time to witness its inevitable destruction.
For anyone wondering how a couple of cavemen go from primitive life in the woods to the more civilized city of Sodom in a matter of days, don’t bother. The film’s screenplay, co-written by Ramis and “The Office” scribes Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, throws all logic out the door in order to create a madcap costume comedy that plays like a highlights reel of the Old Testament. For the most part, however, the comedy is broad and stupid – a series of piss, poop and ass sex jokes (“You know what the best thing about Sodom is? The sodomy.”) that only teenage boys would find remotely funny. There are a few bits of irony-laced dialogue (courtesy of Cera, of course) that offer a look at how much better the movie could have been, but they're few and far between.
In fact, the only thing keeping “Year One” from sinking as low as movies like “Meet the Spartans” and “Disaster Movie” is the cast. Black and Cera actually make for a great onscreen duo (though the material is so embarrassingly bad that you’d wish they had another shot to do things right), while supporting players like Azaria and Oliver Platt (as an extremely hairy and homosexual high priest) do everything in their power to score a few laughs. Unfortunately, none of it works, and though the blooper reel that runs alongside the end credits seems to indicate the actors had a great time making the film, you won’t have a great time watching it. “Year One” is a lowbrow comic turd of biblical proportions that tries way too hard to replicate the zany flair of Mel Brooks. Of course, if that's your thing, just watch Brooks' "History of the World: Part One" instead.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
For a movie that bombed with critics and didn’t do so hot at the box office either, Sony has done the unthinkable by putting together a Blu-ray release jam-packed with bonus material. Along with the obligatory unrated cut of the film, the single-disc effort also includes an audio commentary with director Harold Ramis and stars Jack Black and Michael Cera, a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and a gag reel. Unfortunately, they’re all about as humorless as the film itself, with only the “Sodom’s Got Em!” faux TV advertisement and the live-action reenactment of the Leeroy Jenkins viral video (“The Gates of Sodom”) evoking anything more than a smile. The exclusive MovieIQ feature – an in-movie database that streams real-time information about the cast and crew – is pretty cool, but it’s wasted on a movie as dumb as this.