Review: Year One
PLOT: Jack Black and Michael Cera star as Zed and Oh, unlikely buddies from a tribe of hunter/gatherers. Zed is a bit of a bumbling idiot with the spear and the socially awkward Oh gathers with the ladies. After eating the forbidden fruit (yeah, I thought that was Eve too), Zed believes he's been chosen by the gods to do something important with his life.
Leaving their respective crushes Maya (June Diane Raphael) and Eema (Juno Temple), they take a prehistoric road trip to discover their destinies...which turn out to be saving their lady loves and themselves from the evils of that Vegas of Prehistory: Sodom.
REVIEW: “This is not the greatest film in the world. This is just a tribute.” -Tenacious D
LIFE OF BRIAN is a wonderful movie. So is HISTORY OF THE WORLD, PART 1. I have them on DVD and I watch them all the time. We really didn't need a new version. That is all YEAR ONE is. An attempt to recreate the dry humor and quotable lines of those classic movies. And give Jack Black a chance to wear a weird-ass costume again.
The thing is, I really love Jack Black. Tenacious D is all over my iPhone. In fact, if he had broken into "Fuck Her Gently," it would have vastly improved the film. But his tried and true act is getting a bit tired. Jack Black being goofy and sexually inappropriate with a super hot chick who strangely ends up in love with him has been done to death. He just happens to be wearing a skunk skin instead of spandex and a cape this time. And Michael Cera plays Michael Cera-in-a-bad-wig. I'm really getting tired of talented comedians doing the same thing in different costumes for money. Will Ferrell dancing in his underwear and fighting in slo-mo in LAND OF the LOST, for example. Just stop it. Seriously. Take a break. Come up with something new or I'm just going to rent your old movies.
Harold Ramis usually does this sort of comedy well. And there were definitely some funny bits...unfortunately, they were mostly with side characters. Zed and Oh run into Cain and Abel (David Cross and Paul Rudd) in a field of fuzzy cows and watch in horror as Cain beats Abel to death...repeatedly. Paul Rudd is a resilient man. Hank Azaria, who makes me laugh no matter what he does, is hysterical as Abraham, who, after being stopped from murdering his son Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), decides to honor God by circumcising everyone in sight.
A film can't run on it's side characters though, and the main ones seem to exist merely to throw out one-liners. And we've seen them a thousand times. You could take out the dumb blond, the sassy brunette, the weak and kind of girly guy and the big, dumb guy with a good heart and plop them in any other film. And we've heard the jokes a thousand times. I'm sorry, but Jack Black eating fake poop doesn't really shock me anymore. Fat gay men lusting after a Michael Cera-type doesn't either. It barely makes me giggle.
The film has very little narrative, and what there is seems to be dumped half way through. What LIFE OF BRIAN did so well, was take a strong narrative and dress it up with silly humor and a naked man with a long beard. YEAR ONE has nothing to fall back on here. It's like they weren't even trying. In one scene, Oh is being strangled to death by a snake and it then cuts to them walking around like it never happened. The gag reel during the credits made me laugh more than the actual film.
Still, it was better than 10,000 BC.
PS - ... can someone tell Jack Black to stop doing films which require him to dye his hair blonde. Please?