Year One (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byCassam Looch25/06/2009

One out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Irredeemably awful comedy, following the exploits of a primitive hunter and sensitive gatherer, which fails to entertain to an almost Biblical extent.

What’s it all about?
Writer and director Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day, Analyze This) tries to blend Stone Age characters into a Biblical landscape as Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) are banished from their tribe for tasting the forbidden fruit and set off to prove to everyone that they're special. Zed is convinced he is now gifted with superior knowledge and when he learns that the love of his life has been captured by the Romans, he promises to rescue her from the city of Sodom. Oh reluctantly agrees to go along with the plan and when the pair narrowly escape from Abraham and his spiritual circumcision idea they enlist in the military to free the town from tyranny.

Amongst the townsfolk is treacherous Cain (David Cross) who, having run away from his own family for a grisly reason, is intent on exposing Zed and Oh and sending them to their doom. Can the unlikely duo save the day or will the lecherous High Priest (Platt) have his wicked way with Oh before Zed can convince anyone that he is indeed speaking with God?

The Bad
Given that Year One is meant to be a screwball comedy, the historical inaccuracies really don’t matter. What’s problematic is the poorly scripted and tedious road movie vignettes designed to show off the skills of the not inconsiderable cast. Cera’s awkward teen routine is wearing very thin and what Oliver Platt thinks he’s up to as a perverted toga wearing priest is anybody’s guess. The female members of the cast are woefully underused with Olivia Wilde seemingly singled out with a thankless role which would be beneath even Paris Hilton.

The Worst
Surely this is the final proof that Jack Black just cannot lead a movie without the words rock and school in the title. He drifts from badly delivered dialogue to ill-conceived and embarrassing improvisation all the while making acting heavyweights like Vinnie Jones look good. The look of the film is as garbled as the plot, from the opening wobbly sets and rubber-looking trees which are replaced by vast yet sparsely populated villages.

Worth seeing?
Harold Ramis is no mug when is comes to making quirky and entertaining comedies, the cast on the whole have a great pedigree and the writing team’s credits include the hilarious US version of The Office. However, everyone concerned needs to go back to square one and erase this from their CVs immediately. Watch The Hangover instead.

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Year One (12A)
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Content updated: 16/12/2018 04:36

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