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Year One
DVD disk
Oct 26, 2009 By: Aaron the H
Year One order download
Director:
Harold Ramis

Actors:
Jack Black
Michael Cera
David Cross

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two bumbling cavemen (Jack Black and Michael Cera) leave their village and embark on an aimless journey through the Old Testament era.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Way back in early ’09, when I read the plot synopsis for this film (which was in production at the time), I had mixed feelings. I’ve been a huge Michael Cera fan for years, and Jack Black is usually very hit or miss, but he basically always plays a caveman, so he’s not bringin’ anything new to the table here. Harold Ramis has directed some of the greatest comedies of our time (Animal House, Vacation) but has dropped more than a few bombs in recent years (The Ice Harvest, Bedazzled). So I couldn’t figure out how the heck this thing was gonna turn out…

…turns out the filmmakers were equally as clueless, as Year One (like its two lead characters) is an aimless mess. The film has two main problems, the first of which lies in the story, or lack thereof. Let me break it down for you: Jack Black and Michael Cera’s characters leave the tribe. They stumble upon some crazy characters. Something funny[ish] happens and they move on. They stumble upon another crazy set of characters. They get into some trouble. They move along to the next event. And so on. There’s never really a goal here (other than for each of them to get laid).

The second problem with the film is that the entire thing relies on a singular gimmick: cavemen and Biblical figures who talk like contemporary Americans. It’s funny at first, and Cera playing his usual awkward self is good for laughs through most of it, but the one-joke-pony wears out its welcome pretty fast. It would have been better suited for a reoccurring SNL skit. That said, and along those lines, we do get a bunch of former and recent SNL cast members, as well as some of the industry’s best comedians to fill out the rest of the cast. Among them: Bill Hader as a caveman shaman, Hank Azaria as a circumcision-obsessed Abraham, Oliver Platt as a prominent Soddomite with a predilection for young males, and David Cross & Paul Rudd as battling brothers Cain and Abel.

Again, the potential here for comedy does seem rife, and the film does have its moments, but unfortunately, Ramis and writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (veterans of much more intelligent “The Office” series) are under the thought process that their script should be as dumb as the cavemen that inhabit it. Fart, poop and dick jokes? C’mon guys, you can do better.
THE EXTRAS
The DVD comes with two versions: Unrated and PG13. I watched the unrated, and other than a few quick F bombs, there’s nothing shocking here.

Commentary by writer/director Harold Ramis, Jack Black, and Michael Cera - These three comedians are easy enough to listen to, and fairly funny if you can stomach watching this film one more time.

Alternate Ending (8:20) - A crazy, far more expensive and far more entertaining ending to the film. I listened to the commentary and Ramis calls this “The George Bush ending”, and the one he left in the film the “Barack Obama ending”. Cavemen and politics should never mix.

Deleted Scenes (4:14) - Just two of ‘em, neither of which are spectacular.

Alternate and Extended Scenes (14:38) - If you were itchin’ for more Year One zaniness, here ya go. If you weren’t a fan of the film, then there's nothin’ to see here people.

Gag Reel (8:38) - Not one of the better gag reels I’ve seen, and it runs so long that it overstays its welcome.

Line-o-Rama (5:17) - Finally some funny stuff here as Jack Black, Paul Rudd and Oliver Platt run wild with their improvisational skills. Wish there was some more Michael Cera goodness though.

Year One: The Journey Begins (17:53) - A typical behind-the-scenes featurette, where the cast goofs around and the poor crew talks about how much work and authenticity they put into the sets and costumes that characters then proceed to urinate on.

Soddom’s Got ‘em! (1:58) - A sorta funny fake commercial trying to attract employees to come work in Soddom. Michael Cera is pretty good here.

Leeroy Jenkins: The Gates of Soddom (2:15) - I have absolutely no idea what the hell this is. I just know Vinnie Jones is in it. I'd recommend watching it for the same reason that you slow down to stare at a car accident.

There are also Year One trailers as well as previews for a bunch of other flicks.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Year One is the kind of film you throw on in the background when you're working on more important stuff, like updating your fantasy football roster. A few chuckles here and there and a great cast, but no story and a lack of creativity make this disposable entertainment at best.
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