Movie News & Reviews

'Year One' regrettably unhilarious

Maybe this is just the homelessness talking, but after a while, doingthe same thing every day gets kind of old.

Could be things are different when your breakfast, lunch, and dinnerare nachos served off Megan Fox's tummy instead of yard-leaf saladserved off the lid of your neighbor's trash can. (Right, technicallynot my neighbor, but I don't know what else you call it when you liveunder a guy's front porch and he doesn't know about it.) I might evenenjoy a routine if that routine were part of an alternate life where Istill had a face.

Things get confusing, however, when someone as all-powerful as a moviestar keeps repeating himself. I will confess to no more than beingvaguely aware that there are plenty of awkward virgins out there, butis it strictly necessary for Michael Cera to represent all of them?Forget making a living reprising that role, it's getting dull enoughjust watching it yet again in the regrettably unhilarious YearOne.

Jack Black and Michael Cera are the losers of their primitive tribe.Tired of being snubbed by women and bullied by men, Black eats thefruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge. Rather than findingenlightenment, he and Cera are swiftly banished from the land.

No sooner have they reached civilization than they find many of theirtribe have been captured and enslaved. With the two women who rebuffedthem among the captives, Black and Cera have the chance to redeemthemselves if only they can free their loves.

I hear Year One was originally intended to be a you-are-theredocumentary shot on the back of a time-traveling pterodactyl, butafter the terror-bird's first week of craft services billed in at over$500K of raw shrimp, that plan got scrapped. Huh. I may be confusingthis with a dream of mine -- the ones where people wear clothes are sorare I naturally assume they're awful, awful reality. But a rushedbackup plan would explain why, as a comedy, Year One issporadically funny at best.

That's okay. Schindler's List wasn't that great a comedyeither, but it still did all right. Thing is, Year One doesn'thave much of a story, either, and the bulk of what there is consistsof Black and Cera stumbling into a mishmash of stories from the OldTestament.

Don't get me wrong, that stuff about not eating lions and destroyingyour enemies by lighting foxes on fire is a classic of narrative logicand cohesion. It's just that the trio of writers (including HaroldRamis, who also directed) really doesn't know what to do with thesereferences beyond tossing a bucket of modern attitude on them,classing the joint up with a joke about farts, then letting itsall-star comedian brigade pick up the slack.

It does have a cast so talented they could make Yahweh Himself laughso hard He couldn't stop Himself. When a dude such as Matt Besser can'tget a meatier part than "Man in Crowd," you know they got some seriousheat ahead of him.

Which makes Year One's lack of humor all the more puzzling.Apparently it was edited down from an R to a PG-13, which is usuallylike cutting the parts where people have sex out of a porno, so Iguess we'll get to see whether the uncut version is any better once ithits DVD. (Just bear in mind it's a Judd Apatow co-production, sodon't try that experiment unless you've got five hours to spare.)

But you know what, I doubt that's it. Year One simply doesn'thave any balls, not in its tepid biblical parodies and not in itsunearned moral, a message so feebly inspirational it was probablyyoinked from a coffee shop readerboard. It's minimally enjoyable andeminently skippable.

Grade: C

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