Year One

Year One

Directed by: Harold Ramis
Cast: Jack Black, Michael Cera, Oliver Platt, David Cross
Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: June 19, 2009

Plot: Zed (Black) and Oh (Cera) are two lazy hunter-gatherers who are just trying to scrape by in life. But when Zed gets kicked out of the trip, the two set off on an adventure across the lands.

Who’s It For? If you want to see Black and Cera act like you’ve seen them many times before, just in a new setting, than this is for you. Otherwise, it’s going to be tough to find laughs in this comedy.

Expectations: I’m a huge Cera fan. Black has been hit (Tropic Thunder) and miss (Nacho Libre). As for Harold Ramis directing … I couldn’t help but think that he’s a little past his prime.

SCORECARD (0-10)

Actors:
Jack Black as Zed: He’s exactly what you expect out of this role … cocky, foolish, crazy, but the one thing he’s not is die-hard funny. The main problem here isn’t Black’s delivery of the character Zed, but instead the role he’s stuck playing. The repetition of Zed talking about eating the forbidden fruit and being chosen for something more is very boring. There’s just no excitement in the journey.
Score: 5

Michael Cera as Oh: This is clearly the biggest character leap Cera has taken on the big screen. Before this it was all about being the awkward teen in Juno, Superbad, and Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist … except maybe Anthony Michael Hall back in the day. The problem here is that Cera’s best moment is in the very beginning when he’s talking about picking strawberries for a fruit salad … ah, the life of a gatherer.
Score: 6

Oliver Platt as High Priest: I feel like the industry has decided Platt’s funny, but the public just isn’t in on the joke. Platt’s in heavy make-up and has a hairy chest. That’s really all I am seeing here. The only time I’ve truly laughed with Platt was his 1998 film The Imposters.
Score: 3

David Cross as Cane: Here’s the problem … not for one second did Cross do anything remotely funny. It’s a shame they dangled Paul Rudd as Abel and then took him away. I was relieved when Cane left the boys the first time, because I thought Year One could get back on track. When he kept showing back up, I just kept trying to remember Cross is funny as Tobias in “Arrested Development,” but clearly it wasn’t enough.
Score: 1

Talking: I did laugh a couple times, especially in the beginning when both Black and Cera are acting normal and riffing on the culture differences. Playing up the times for laughs is a good call but they just don’t do it enough.
Score: 5

Sights: Pee and poop are the focus of a lot of gags, but let’s talk about a clear editing mistake here … The snake. After Zed eats the forbidden fruit a snake raps itself around Oh, clearly on attack. Zed talks about how to save Oh and then … nothing. Cut to next scene. They never speak about how Oh was saved. I’m still waiting.
Score: 4

Sounds: No music? Look, you’ve already kept Black and Cera’s present day personalities, so why couldn’t you through in some heavy rap or something to help with the transitions?
Score: 2

PLOT SPOILERS

Best Scene: Circumcision. Hank Azaria shows up as Abraham and tries to convince the guys that cutting off the end of their penises is a good idea. Rightly so, they’re not buying it.

Ending: They toss in some fist-a-cuffs to liven it up, and Oh is declared tough cause he hit a girl. Then Zed and Oh each head off to their own sunsets after sharing a guy love moment.

Questions: Kyle Gass, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Vinnie Jones and Horatio Sanz are all wasted. That’s not a question, just an obvious statement.

Rewatchability: It’s just not adventurey enough. They would have been better off staying at their village and searching for all the laughs they could get there. I’ll watch the first 15 minutes and then as soon as Cane shows up, I’m out.

OVERALL

The film doesn’t try to put you in any sort of accurate time period … especially not with attitude. That’s where most of the funny lies. The women are still hot, everybody’s teeth are OK and Cera has his same smart awkward delivery.

Year One sends us across the land, but they can’t find enough laughs along the way. Only one moment (check best scene) is helped out by another actor. Otherwise, Black and Cera are left to try and milk laughs where they can.

Films like The Hangover and Superbad have proven that you don’t need a big budget and lavish sets to make people laugh. For a comedy, Year One feels dated.

Final Score: 5/10

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