Monday, June 22, 2009

Year One (**)

Year One. 100 mins. PG-13. Directed by Harold Ramis. Written by Harold Ramis & Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg. Starring Jack Black, Michael Cera, Oliver Platt, David Cross, and Hank Azaria.

Year One features a great cast, talented producers (Judd Apatow is one of them), and funny writers (Harold Ramis and two guys from The Office), but they're all working in the service of a hopelessly misguided idea that seems about as comedically fresh as the time period the movie is spoofing. One can't help but look at the great comedies of today (Knocked Up, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Role Models, The Hangover) and notice that they are all modern, relatively un-gimmicky stories. Those movies don't need high concepts to be funny, so why bother with Year One? The movie is a road comedy of sorts, following two cavemen tossed from their tribe who set off for Gomorrah to try and rescue their lady loves from slavery. Along the way, they run into Cain and Abel, Abraham, and other Biblical characters. In fact, the plot isn't all that different from what you see in the preview; the only thing not already given away is fart, poop, and pee jokes. Some of them hit their marks, much to my resistance, but most just fall flat. Jack Black is perfectly cast, but a lot of his schtick goes a long way. That leaves it up to Michael Cera to earn the majority of minor chuckles. He's still playing George Michael, but darn it if his comedic timing isn't still spot-on. His spin on every line reading creates laughs on screen when there aren't any on the written page. Director Ramis has made great comedies before (Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, Analyze This), but Year One isn't one of them. Still, thanks to Cera, this one might not be a horrible rental - just lower those expectations. Keep lowering them. One more time. Okay, good.



Post a Comment

<< Home