Year One wants it’s audience to believe it’s Agent Sands at the end of Once Upon A Time In Mexico. The film blindly fires it’s comedy at us, hoping things will hit us and evoke mountains of laughter. Why shouldn’t it? It’s directed by Harold “Egon” Ramis who’s done some decent comedy directing and is responsible for Ghostbusters and Caddyshack. The movie’s headlined by timid nerd Michael Cera, whom everyone adores, and Jack Black, who can be great when he wants to be. The talent is certainly there to make a fun, if useless, summer comedy. Yet like the aforementioned Sands, Year One misses just about every shot of comedy it unleashes.
Year One is terribly constructed together to the point where Ramis should feel ashamed he took part in it. Scenes start, climax, and then cut to the next scene without finishing the previous joke or giving us a clue as to what occurred. Picture sleeping with the chubby and ugly cheerleader and she leaves right before you both finish. Other, better films are guilty of this as well but they at least have the decency to mention what happened the next scene later. It leads into a point about the editing in this film, which is absolutely atrocious. Pieces are just slopped together, often times without any consistency. For instance, why does Jack Black’s hair change from black to blonde over the course of a scene? Editors Craig Herring and Steve Welch should do community service for what a sloppy job they do on this picture.
Sloppy though, seems to be the keyword for this picture. The script by Ramis, Gene Stupnitsky, and Lee Eisenberg is full of half-assed ideas that come from a History of the World Part I/Life of Brian double feature. Unlike those films, theirs lacks the consistency both comedy and filmmaking wise to be anything remotely decent. Perhaps they chose to set the film in a prehistoric age because that’s how all of their jokes feel. All of the “laughs” rely on dick and fart jokes which is going to appeal to anyone ten and under. Certainly the film gave me this vibe it was trying to appeal to a young audience but even then, the jokes are almost twenty years too late. Ramis’ direction, unfortunately, doesn’t do anything to elevate the material either. Presumably, he shot what was on page and did simple pointing and shooting. To paraphrase, the man did a lazy job with a sloppy script.
Jack Black and Michael Cera do make for a solid team though and play off of the other well. Likely it’s due to the fact both men are essentially playing themselves in caveman’s clothing. The flick does absolutely nothing to make you accept these two are playing different people other than dress them differently. Black though, seems to be doing a parody of his Po from Kung Fu Panda as he proclaims “I’m the chosen one!” His typical shtick is at play here though, so those turned off by him will find nothing to accept here. Cera tries with his timid nerd act that does work in spots. Seemingly, he’s the only one doing something in favor of the film rather than taking a meh attitude toward it. His low-key take is refreshing when you consider what everyone else in the film is doing.
The biggest of these offenders is not Hank Azaria but Oliver Platt as the High Priest. Normally Platt is enjoyable but here he’s repulsive, and not because his character calls for it. Platt’s character is implied to be gay, since apparently all priests in comedies have to be. Trouble is, it’s annoying, unfunny, and should make said homosexual priests feel ashamed. Azaria’s a different matter, as he interpreted his role of Abraham as Cap’n Abraham of the S.S. Choppin’ Skin. Every line is muttered like a drunken pirate leading one to think Azaria was a Captain Sparrow reject. Unlike his other recent history adventure, Azaria doesn’t bring the film down and does have the best line in the whole film. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is his son Isaac and while it’s impossibly hard to hate the kid, he’s essentially McLovin in different clothes. Vinnie Jones is Vinnie Jones, and Olivia Wilde makes for some really nice eye candy. David Cross portrays Cain and seems to pop in and out when the script needs him, while Paul Rudd feels all but wasted as Abel.
Year One is lazy, unprofessional filmmaking. Ramis is better than this, Apatow is better than this, even Jack Black is better than this. I keep reassuring myself the only reason Ramis did this was so we could get Ghostbusters 3. At the same time, he shouldn’t have succumbed to such a stupid, idiotic and retarded monstrosity of film. Much like it’s premise, Year One should be buried, ancient history when it’s all said and done.