Saturday, June 20, 2009

Year One

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Crude Caveman Encounter Biblical Events in Raunchy Road Comedy

There’s only one line in Year One which made me laugh, albeit unintentionally. It’s where Jack Black asks, “Why am I talking?” precisely echoing my sentiments while watching him embarrass himself with joke after joke which completely falls flat.

For this sleazy Harold Ramis-directed Judd Apatow production is unfunny from beginning to end, starting with the moment when Black’s character informs us that he’s slept with his own mother. But such behavior is ostensibly okay since he-man Zed (Black) is a Neanderthal, and the same can be said of his sidekick, Oh (Michael Cera), who conks a woman on the head with a club in order to have his way with her.

This is how we’re introduced to the crude cavemen at the point of departure, shortly before they are run out of their hometown, population 60, not for these crimes but because Zed takes a bite out of a piece of forbidden fruit dangling from a golden apple tree. In case you missed the allusion to Adam (Harold Ramis) and Eve (Rhoda Griffis), a snake soon materializes and slithers around Oh’s neck, choking him to death, at least until the next scene when he’s inexplicably alive again.

Not to worry, that’s not the only time Oh dies (he’s also killed by a cougar) or the only Biblical tale this mess of a movie takes poetic license with. For next, we find the pair right in the midst of the sibling rivalry which led to the first documented case of fratricide. Unfortunately, again there’s simply nothing humorous about the way in which they fail to intervene as Cain (David Cross) bashes his brother Abel’s (Paul Rudd) brains in.

Subsequently, Zed and Oh’s lighthearted look at the Old Testament has them crossing paths with such religious figures as Abraham, Isaac and Lilith on their testosterone-sodden sojourn to the city of Sodom. There, the plot thickens when the horny boys discover that the objects of their affection (June Diane Raphael and Juno Temple) are slaves. So they hatch a cockamamie scheme to free them.

What ensues is a cinematically-tragic mix of slapstick and bodily function fare, a horrifying insult to the intelligence, given all the big names connected to the project, including Bill Hader, Horatio Sanz, Hank Azaria, Vinnie Jones, Oliver Platt and that kid who played McLovin’ in Superbad.

Might not be Jack Black’s best film, but it’s definitely his worst.

Poor (0 stars)

Rated PG-13 for crude humor, slapstick violence, brief profanity and sexuality.

Running time: 97 minutes

Studio: Columbia Pictures

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