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Year One (2009)

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Score: 5/10

Genre: Slapstick Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.

Release Date: June 19th, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Harold Ramis Actors: Jack Black, Michael Cera, Oliver Platt, David Cross, Hank Azaria, Juno Temple, June Raphael, Olivia Wilde

I

t’s supposed to be funny when Jack Black takes a taste from a pile of animal droppings. It’s supposed to be humorous when Black and Michael Cera argue over religion, women, and the varying perspectives of circumcision. And it’s supposed to be hilarious when the mismatched duo engages in a slow-speed ox-cart chase, holy sanctity violation, and massive biblical interference. And occasionally, it is. But when viewers realize what they’re laughing at, they will likely fear for the decline in levels of maturity and the subsequent and proportionately diminishing brain cell count inherent with viewing this degree of absurdity.

Both Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) are completely inept at their respective roles as hunters and gatherers, in their small prehistoric woodland village. Cast out from their tribe after Zed eats fruit from a forbidden tree, the two wander the land in search of the ends of the earth. Instead, they begin disrupting the lives of several biblical figures and wind up on an adventurous rescue mission that will take them into the decadent city of Sodom (an ancient Las Vegas).

It’s not that anyone would necessarily expect more from veteran comedy writer/director Harold Ramis, but “Year One” almost resorts entirely to immature, gross-out humor. Nearly every gag attempts to top the previous one with jokes that push the limits of sexual deviance and good taste – and the PG-13 rating that it landed after being edited down from an R. Jack Black and Michael Cera are definitely up to the challenge of dueling for the crown of crudity, but it’s almost as if audiences are witnessing two hours of improvisation. They may be dressed in historical garb and thrust into “10,000 BC” sets, but they’re still just Jack Black and Michael Cera – and the wit and dialogue reeks of the typical shticks that unavoidably appear in every one of their films.

It may go slightly beyond the blueprints for a formulaic parody movie, but it has all the same symptoms. The recruiting of recognizable cameo roles is amusing, but the rest is a pointless plot that introduces and resolves conflict with little attention to believability, historical and political incorrectness, boner and fart jokes, constant remarks about genitals (including a particularly lengthy comment on sheep balls), constant sexually suggestive actions (without actually showing nudity), and the literal eating of crap. There’s a place for harmless but empty, filthy drivel like “Year One,” a comedy that can be enjoyed for it’s refusal to rise above repetitive, lewd material, but it must be taken in moderation – along with circumcisions, wine, and sponge cake.

– The Massie Twins

 



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