Year One is a crass mashup of styles
Starring Jack Black and Michael Cera. Rated PG. Opens Friday, June 19.
For all the biblical references in his silly new spoof Year One, director Harold Ramis sure comes up with an ungodly mashup of styles.
Watch the trailer for Year One.
The movie starts out amusingly enough as a caveman comedy that plays Michael Cera and Jack Black’s oh-so-contemporary ironic posturing off a Stone Age setting. “Hunters think they are so cool. They don’t think this is challenging?” deadpans gatherer Oh (Cera) as he picks strawberries.
But before you know it, he and fellow Neanderthal Zed (Black) get kicked out of their primitive village and begin a long journey that takes them right to the sight of Cain slaying Abel. What follows is a weird mix of cornball Old Testament gags, Superbad snarkiness, and Farrelly-brand scatology. (Which raises the question, why is it somehow worse watching Black fellate a shish kebab than seeing him eat shit?)
The cavemen spend the rest of the movie shaking their shaggy-haired heads over such strange scriptural antics as sacrificial virgins and Sodomite orgies. Cowriters Ramis and The Office’s Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg are too scattershot with their sketches to really take the piss out of religious superstition. Life of Brian it ain’t.
Year One does provide some tame laughs, but they’re as widely spread out as the film’s historical references. It’s at its best when it’s playing hipster language ludicrously off its ancient setting: David Cross’s gleefully psychopathic Cain scoffs, “Hold a grudge much? That was, like, a fortnight ago!” And you have to admire the A-list comedians who throw themselves into these ludicrous characters, whether it’s Hank Azaria’s circumcision-happy Abraham or Paul Rudd’s hilariously outraged Abel.
Cera and Black don’t hold back either, but Year One may finally mark the point of overexposure for both of them—and I’m not just talking about the shamelessly skimpy pelts and loincloths they’re wearing.