Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Review: Year One

Grade: C+

Year One is a new Comedy about two hunter/gatherers, Zed and Oh, who eat from the tree of good and evil and are thrown out of their village. They then meet up with many biblical characters. To start they meet Cain and Abel and after Cain kills Abel they all run off together. Cain then sells the two into slavery. The two then meet up with two women from their village, Maya and Eema, who have been captured and sold into slavery as well. The two then spend the rest of the movie going from biblical story to biblical story trying to find a way to free Maya and Eema.

This movie is written and directed by comedy legend Harold Ramis. Unfortunately this movie is far from his greatest. It has its moments that really make me laugh but overall Year One was nowhere near as funny as many of Ramis’ past movies. There were many jokes about the biblical stories that I did enjoy like Cain killing Abel and trying to cover it up, Abraham founding Israel and talking about circumcisions. Unfortunately the jokes were very hit and miss and not very frequent. Regrettably most of the humor is very low brow and even at points involves the characters eating poop and drinking urine. Like I said though there are some great jokes, most of which are at the expense of religion and religious practices that don’t make sense, like sacrificing virgins.

Jack Black (Tropic Thunder, Orange County) plays Zed, a hunter/gatherer who is not good at either and is pretty much hated by everybody in the village. After he eats from the tree of good and evil he becomes convinced that he is the chosen one. Chosen one for what, he never really says other than he feels he is meant for something larger. Zed wants to be with Maya but she is only interested in people who are strong and smart. Jack Black is his usual crazy and outgoing self in this role which is ok because that’s one of the reasons I wanted to see it. Michael Cera (Superbad, TV’s Arrested Development) plays Zed’s close friend Oh. Oh has very little self confidence but is in love with Eema and keeps trying to get her to like him. Michael Cera will probably have the misfortune of always playing this type of character, it is the exact same character that he’s played in Arrested Development, Superbad, Juno and Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. Up and coming actress June Diane Raphael plays Maya and did a pretty good job for the small role and was pretty funny at times as well. Another up and coming actress Juno Temple played Eema, again doing a pretty good job for the somewhat minor role.

There was quite the supporting cast that really helped the movie along. Bill Hader showed up as the village shaman and was pretty funny in the brief role. Harold Ramis himself showed up as Adam, father of Cain and Abel. David Cross played Cain and was very funny and was the most prominent character outside of the two leads probably. Paul Rudd had a very brief appearance as Abel. Vinnie Jones played Saragon, a leader in the Sodom army. Oliver Platt had a very funny role as an effeminate high priest in Sodom. Hank Azaria was very funny as Abraham, especially since he kept running around talking about circumcising everybody. Olivia Wilde played Princess Inanna, a kind hearted women who only cared about the well being of the people of Sodom.

Over all the movie wasn’t bad and was good for some cheap laughs but it defiantly doesn’t rank up against Harold Ramis’ other works and is far from the funniest movie of the year. If you like Jack Black and Michael Cera chances are you will enjoy this movie.

Great quote: “Guard! The upside down man has to pee!”

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