If you consider poop eating and penis jokes the height of humor, then Year One
was made with you in mind. Everyone else should take a pass on this gross, disappointing, disjointed, unimpressive attempt at comedy.
Aside from the fact the jokes are strictly sophomoric, the film has been cobbled together with what seems to have been no regard for how individual scenes play out. Year One
jumps around, leaving potentially funny scenes before they're finished. What might have worked years ago on a comedy/variety show - putting together a series of sketches based on a central theme - doesn't work in this feature film.
Zed (Jack Black
) is a hunter. Oh (Michael Cera
) is a gatherer. Neither is very good at their assigned tasks, and everyone in their village thinks they'd be better off without Zed and Oh as part of their clan. Kicked out, Zed and Oh head out on a series of adventures which could lead to much merry-making and mayhem, but instead lead to an hour and 30 minutes of lame jokes.
Jack Black and Michael Cera in 'Year One.'
© Columbia Pictures
Zed and Oh meet up with fighting brothers, Cain (David Cross) and Abel (Paul Rudd
), stop Abraham from sacrificing his son, and eventually enter Sodom where they are taken prisoner while attempting to save the women from their village from slavery and stop virgins from being tossed into the fire in an offering to the gods to end the drought.
The Bottom Line
Even the worst comedies can manage to sneak in a few chuckle-worthy jokes, and Year One
has one or two scenes that show brief flashes of genuinely funny moments. But screenwriters Harold Ramis (who also directed Year One
), Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg take the low road whenever possible in order to gross out the audience, and in doing so rip away any joy to be had from the few jokes that actually do work.
Ramis, Stupnitsky and Eisenberg appear to subscribe to the 'if it sort of works once, let's beat the audience over the head with it until we've driven the life out of the joke' philosophy. Circumcision, if you're not the one undergoing the procedure, can be humorous, but a running stream of jokes based on that theme just seems lazy when you've got these guys messing around in Sodom. There's so much more that could have been done with their arrival in Sodom, but the writers aim for a 10-13 year old audience with their jokes and so it's all about peeing and body hair.
Michael Cera, Jack Black and David Cross in 'Year One.'
© Columbia Pictures
As for the cast, Jack Black is doing Jack Black. Michael Cera is doing Michael Cera. Everyone else - Hank Azaria, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Oliver Platt, David Cross, and Paul Rudd - is either annoying and/or wasted.
Year One was directed by Harold Ramis and is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, brief strong language and comic violence.
Theatrical Release Date: June 19, 2009