Year One
Don’t cheer just yet, this ride’s headed for the bottom.

Theatrical Release Date: 06/19/2009
Director: Harold Ramis
Cast: Jack Black, Michael Cera, Oliver Platt, David Cross, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Vinnie Jones, June Diane Raphael, Juno Temple, Olivia Wilde, Matthew Willig, Hank Azaria, Kyle Gass

As a lad who loves pretty much anything from the eighties, Harold Ramis is an icon. As a writer/actor in “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters” and writer/director of “Caddyshack”, he’s shaped some of the best comedies that have managed to stand the test of time … How in the hell did he write and direct “Year One”?

This burdened beast of a film is about a hunter (Jack Black) and gatherer (Michael Cera) being exiled from their tribe and forced to strike out on their own. They manage to stumble upon a number of biblical stories like Abraham almost killing his own son, Cain killing Abel and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. They manage to urinate on themselves and eat feces. They manage to right the injustice that plagues the land. However, they DON’T manage to make me laugh.

Last time I checked, comedies were meant to be humorous. “Year One” is basically the anti-comedy and as each “joke” falls flat and Black and Cera regurgitate the same character they’ve portrayed in most of their projects, my urge to leave the theater rose. Since it’s my job to stick around and report back on what I see, I kept my butt firmly planted (though much shifting had to be done as the time dragged on).

Much of the film actually seemed like a script written a few decades ago that some executive found on the shelf and decided to green light rather than commission something new. The problem is trying to marrying this concept, which is essentially a biblical satire, with bodily excretion, Jack Black and Michael Cera. This is something that I’d expect from Mel Brooks … and make no mistake, this doesn’t come anywhere close to any of his classic films.

While the leads do little to help the situation, the supporting cast attempts to breathe some life into this monstrosity but no matter how hard they tried, somehow Ramis and company weren’t able to showcase just how stunningly beautiful Olivia Wilde is, how funny Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt or Vinnie Jones can be and I think the film’s editor must have quit halfway through the process because nearly every shift in the film’s plot progression feels like there’s a transitory scene missing.

Appropriately enough, “Year One” can only muster a 1 out of 5. I never actually laughed, repeatedly thought about how much I could be doing if I weren’t in the theater and wonder if this is the death knoll for Jack Black’s ability to be cast as the lead in a live-action feature film. If you’re looking for something to see at the theater, don’t waste your time traveling back to the dawn of time, it’s anything but exciting.