Year One (2009)
User ReviewsReview this title
Without ever claiming to be a tribute to Mel Brooks, that's exactly what it ended up as. If you liked History of the World Part One you will like Year One as our two cave men progress up through the early years of human civilization and culture, encountering various biblical figures and getting themselves in and out of various tight spots.
It was really a fun little film that I think most all fans of Mel Brooks would appreciate. It is as much a nod to JudeoChristian history as it also pans it. It is a nod to Mel Brooks without being a complete copy cat of Mr. Brooks. It is meant to be a romp and not a serious film.
People who brushed it off should give it a second chance and not try to over analyze or read to deep into it and just have a little fun. I gave it an 8, which is saying a lot from a person who doesn't like either lead.
I was wrong.
When the movie started, I began to become even more worried I would hate it because within the first 20 minutes of the movie, at least 3/4 of the things seen in the previews were already said. I figured it was going to drag on from there. To my great relief, it did not at all. The entire hour and a half of the movie was constant laughing. The way Black and Cera got themselves into so much trouble and managed to get out of it every time was perfect. The ridiculous yet hilarious references to The Bible and how things that exist today were created were perfect. The movie was exactly what it was supposed to be: a laugh out loud comedy that was only meant to entertain.
I am still baffled as to why people keep bashing this movie. Comments like "Worst Movie of the Decade" anger me... What were people expecting with this movie? A heart warming story with a compelling plot and serious action? It is like everybody is sizing this movie up to expectations that it doesn't need to be sized up to. This movie was a great movie if all you want to do is go in and laugh. If you are looking for some deeper moral and other things that don't belong in a movie like Year One, you should go and see something else.
But this is pretty good entertainment - and it's not really about cavemen - it's about the Old Testament set mainly in Sodom - and it is kind of like Life of Brian - though clearly not in the same class.
One can understand why marketers don't want problems with an upset congregation, but at the end of the day this works pretty well as both broad comedy and a gentle satire.
Considering that I was expecting a total donkey with a side order of turkey this was pretty much a fun film - and no where near as bad as I'd heard. Can be watched without loss of brain cells...
The film starts with our Main Men, Oh and Zed (Cera and Black) embedded in a basic hunter-gatherer culture. Only problem is, Oh and Zed are modern humans, with our self-awareness and ironic detachment, surrounded by wild-state humans. The natural humans are powerful and fit, but a little lacking in philosophy.
After a close encounter with the Tree of Knowledge, Zed and Oh are exiled by their close-minded band and strike out for the Big City and Modern Times. They soon encounter the Hebrews, and this is where our own closed-minded theatre-goers get their panties in a bunch. We meet Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac, Cain slaying Abel, and the ridiculous absurdity of Old Testament "morality". Modern day fundies have a sense of humor chiseled in stone like the Ten Commandments, and this movie breaks them all.
Unfortunately the innocence of the hunter-gatherers has also been lost by this time. They have been captured by civilization and sold into slavery, and now Zed and Oh have a mission: rescue their damsels in distress (Maya and Eema) from slavery in Sodom.
Fortunately Isaac (in a hilarious portrayal of the Jewish Badboy by Chris Mintz-Plasse - that's McLovin to you)guides them to Sin City, where our heroes are quickly introduced into the complexities of modern politics. The power structure of the city is tyrannical and corrupt, ruled by a rotten king, his hilariously corrupt High Priest, and the scheming Prime Minister.
By the end of the film Oh and Zed and Maya and Eema (who are also very funny in supporting roles) have traversed the philosophical arc from instinctive animals through corrupt theocracy and finally end up peering through the keyhole of enlightenment. The humor is a little too smart and sacrilegious for some viewers, but for most it is an excellent comedy. I laughed my ass off and never missed it.
Basically, Jack Black and Michael Cera play their usual characters, just in loincloths. Jack can't hunt or gather, but he eats from the tree of knowledge, and both are banished into the world. David Cross plays Cain, who is the first person they meet, and actually plays someone closer to his stand up act than Tobias (David and Michael would have worked together on Arrested Development, but David shows that he can actually play another character).
They go from one biblical setting to another, making fun (mainly) of the old testament, and eventually wind up in Sodom, with Cain, and the requisite love interests....
I think where this movie falls down is it seems a bit like a long skit. The chemistry between Jack Black and Michael Cera I thought wasn't great, but the plot/character development was really just secondary to getting in some jokes. Obviously, the jokes won't be to everyones taste (hence the rankings of 0), and will be to others (thus the rankings of 10).
Again, although this may very well win a Razzie this year, I liked it, and if you like stupid humor, this movie has lots of it.
The movie is a satire of the old testament. It presents the biblical creation story in the context of a tribe of stone age humans with contemporary mindsets. The results are hilarious, it's not as good as Monty Python's Life of Brian, but it's in the same ballpark.
The only area where the movie suffers is in what seems like an attempt to cater to a younger audience with toilet humor. However, as you cringe watching the toilet humor scenes, you get sideswiped by a few clever jokes that are timed just right.
There are a few jokes in the movie that are delivered so perfectly, with such great nuance and skill, that just thinking about them still makes me laugh. My favorite is the scene where the priest is reading the omens from the sheep entrails he's just poured onto the table, "to me, I see a smiley face, and that makes me happy". ;) This movie is one of the few that I'm willing to buy.
But I went anyway, and was not disappointed. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because I brought along low expectations, a light mood, and had Haagen Dazs just before the flick.
On the bright side, Year One is riddled with humor, some jokes being funnier than others, and yes, as other reviewers have pointed out, some of the jokes are drawn out. Jack Black is admirably suited for the role of the anti-hero Zed, a sort of Judah Friedlander caveman who fails at everything he does, but fails -so well-. And Michael Cera, the effeminate Oh, is another manifestation of wise casting. Who better to play the virgin gatherer than Cera?
At times, the movie is not -gripping-, and the trailer is a bit misleading, since it gives the impression that the movie would be mostly about cavemen meeting Romans with few biblical allusions. But the entire movie is nearly a parody about the bible, in which another explanation is offered for some of the miracles of the Old Testament.
The moments when the movie is dull are few, and the dialog and characterization make up for it. Zed remains faithful to his inadequate anti-hero character throughout, and Oh keeps getting into worse trouble, as he had since the beginning. This is actually one of the best parts, in which every time Zed gets himself and Oh into trouble, Oh is the one to suffer the worse punishment.
In any case, if you want to enjoy this movie, go with a light heart and just try not to take it too seriously.
I like movies that don't take themselves too seriously, and this is definitely a movie like that. It looked like everyone had fun making a silly film. And I know everyone in the theater was laughing throughout it.
There are parts that try to drag a joke out for a little too long, but overall, I thought the humor was simple, effective, and very well executed.
Michael Cera was definitely the shining star in this movie. He delivers awkward comedy SO well and just so believable and likable. He is a fantastic actor.
I was lucky enough to see this movie at a free pre-screening. That makes me pretty happy, because I would have been distraught if I had to pay $7.50 to sit through this mess. The plot was very contrived, and the historical humour fizzled out after the first twenty minutes. The rest of the movie relied on a myriad of sexual innuendos that were overused and abused. Overall, the movie became very unenjoyable and although there were a few laughs hidden in there, they could not make up for the rest.
Ramis gets off to a good start by combining the crude, boisterous Jack Black and the dry, fey Michael Cera as buddies from a stone-age tribe: they make a good contrast, Black's invincible confidence set off against Cera's restraint and exquisite timing. Zed (Black) and Oh( Cera) are outcast members of a hunter-gatherer village: Zed is full of bravado, daring to sample the apple of the tree of knowledge, for all the good it does him (which is none), but still a totally incompetent hunter. Oh is a multi-talented gatherer, the smartest guy in town, though as he says, "that's a low bar." Oh was the one who thought of using gourds to drink out of instead of cupping one's hands ("it just seemed practical"). Oh and Zed, Cera and Black, provide a running series of jokes about masculinity and intelligence throughout. Ramis has fun with Cera's girlish voice and soft face. He's still the smartest guy around -- and also a big guy, towering above squat, plump Jack. Oh's also unmistakably interested in girls, proclaiming himself to be a "male virgin," a status he is aiming to lose. But his looks mean he has to watch out for Zaftig the bald eunuch (Kyle Gass) and the flaming hirsute high priest of Sodom (Oliver Platt).
Dramatically different levels of civilization coexist in Ramis' ancient times, as they do now. 'Year One' is a quick run-through of some early stages of human history. The neolithic pals quickly run into some farmers with domesticated animals, who turn out to be a nastily squabbling Cain and Abel, and some mean Biblical fun begins, leading from fratricide to the discovery of the tiresome old blowhard Abraham. His son Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse of 'Superbad'), whom they save from being sacrificed, emerges as a rebellious pot-smoking teenager who likes to sneak off to Sodom to party (as what teenager wouldn't?). When Zed and Oh hears about this sink of depravity they can't wait to go there themselves, despite Abraham's condemnation. Anyhow they have to escape Abe's clutches before he circumcises them, a new idea they don't particularly fancy.
Things go on in this vein. A lot of the action takes place in Sodom. The Old Testament Hebrews are just a stopover on the way, though they pop up again later. It's a wild ride for Zed and Oh, who go from wearing animal skins to giving oil massages and losing their virginity backstage at a palace revolt. That elaborately staged scene (the budget was $60 million) shows Ramis shot this more like a Biblical blockbuster than a penny-pinching Python flick, and the changing costumes and hair styles are fun. But I'll be honest with you. Jack Black is wearing a bit thin (metaphorically, that is), and it's chiefly Cera, with his casual, throwaway delivery of the best lines, who breathes freshness into this.
Jack Black and Michael Cera headline Harold Ramis' Biblical comedy about a pair of misfit hunter-gatherers who embark on a wild journey through the ancient world after being banished from their primitive village. Zed and Oh may lack in the skills that their chieftain is looking for, but they have plans to make it big. Zed has a gut feeling that God has "chosen" him, and so he leads his buddy on a trip through the unknown countryside in search of bigger and better things, bumping into several weird characters along the way -- like a feuding pair of brothers named Cain and Abel. Unfortunately, their quest for greatness hits a few snags, like being sold into slavery, and later becoming the object of interest to a very amorous, very hairy high priest in the opulent city of Sodom.
You have to understand, I wanted to love this movie, from the minute that I saw the trailer, I thought this was going to be such a great movie, but once again they showed all the funny parts in the trailer. During the movie I fell asleep and my boyfriend tried to wake me up and I said "OMG, I was dreaming that I was watching this movie where Jack Black and Michael Cera think that they're funny oh, no, just let me sleep". Seriously, this movie was beyond painfully bad, I don't understand how anybody could find this kind of humor funny. Year One has everything that should equal a good comedy and that was the funny cast, but thanks to the bad direction and awful concept, Year One falls completely flat. Stay as far away from this trash as you can, this film should be used only to torture possible terrorists into telling the US where they hide their nuclear weapons.
Zed (Jack Black) is a gatherer who tries to fit in with the hunter clan, but he's just too silly for their tastes. Oh (Michael Cera) is also a gatherer and is a somewhat unpopular with the ladies. After an accident involving fire, this mismatched pair has to leave and they do through various pieces of biblical history, including meeting Cain (David Cross) and Abel (Paul Rudd), and meeting Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Abraham (Hank Azaria), who apparently had a thing for cutting foreskin. The movie is a hodge podge of scenes thrown together with very little plot, but by the end Zed and Oh have to save the lives of two girls from their village.
Jack Black and Michael Cera are pretty good here. Jack Black does his typical over the top stoner performance and Michael Cera gives the emotional boy performance. Even David Cross and Oliver Platt manage to squeeze some laughs out of their performances. But nobody really has a lot of material to work with, though at the same time the material isn't the worst out there. It's bad, and oftentimes relies on some outwardly sexual material. In fact, this is the least subtle PG-13 rated film I've seen where sexual or crude jokes are involved. This includes scenes of eating poop and throwing testicles. If something sexual happens, it's not only just implied, but it's flaunted.
One big problem is the lack of plot in the movie. It grows boring going from setpiece to setpiece, never establishing a real plot until the end, and despite being only around 100 minutes, it still feels way too long. The climax is ridiculous and quite boring, and this movie is too filled with scenes that aren't particularly horrible, but they aren't particularly funny, and all too often this movie is just a laugh free staring at the screen. It managed to attain quite consistent mediocrity, with some chuckles every once in a while. It wasn't horrible, it just wasn't good either, by any means.
My rating: ** out of ****. 105 mins. PG-13 for crude sexual humor, drug use, and language.
What do you people expect? Michael Cera is Gorgeous! he is cute and sweet, yet everybody complains he plays the same character, DUH! that is why he is cast! Jeez we all know he is no Zac Effron, he can't play the cool kid in school, his voice is too high! Seriously it would be unbelievable and instead of the "he is the same character" comments everyone would say "doesn't suit his role". He is a cute and dorky inbetweener that we have all come to love, why do you expect any different?
Jack Black was hilarious and i thought his character was great! He was sexist and funny. His character was kind of Shallow Hal-like but Neanderthal which was great!
This movie was hilarious I found myself laughing so loudly in the cinema! I will definitely buy it when it comes out on DVD, I Loved it!
Jack Black is sometimes painful to watch, but Michael Cera makes it bearable. The other characters are minor, and do not in anyway, help move the plot or laughs along.
All of the funny parts are in the trailer for the movie. So, if you're looking for something as funny as Superbad, Knocked Up, The Hangover etc., do not waste your money seeing this in the movie theatre; just rent it when it comes out.
The story centers around tribal nitwits Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera), two guys living in the year one who can neither hunt nor gather and so are thrown out of their community of Neanderthals and dung n' stick huts. No matter. For the two have eaten of the forbidden fruit and are now curious about what lay outside of their limited little world, and so they embark on a journey through the ancient world. On their travels they meet Cain (David Cross) and Abel (Paul Rudd), Abraham (Hank Azaria) and Isaac (Christopher-Mintz Plasse), and they wind up in Sodom where their girlfriends (Juno Temple and June Diane Raphael) have been turned into slaves and are about to be sacrificed by the high priest (Oliver Platt). None of this really matters, as it's all just set- up for a lot of bits that are flawlessly unfunny.
It's safe to say that Ramis has gone from rusty (his previous directorial effort was 2005's "The Ice Harvest") to downright awful. He, along with co-screenwriters Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (two guys who are part of the creative think tank on "The Office"), craft a complete train-wreck of a film that falls back on everything that's wrong with American comedy. It settles for lowest common denominator and aims lower. Poop is eaten, a character hanging upside-down pees and lets it trickle down his face, testicles are thrown, genital mutilation is referenced, and fart and vomit jokes are painfully added to this crude and all together embarrassingly sloppy and unfunny stew of crap. And this is the A-material. The movie also tries to riff on the bible as much as possible, hitting on everything from forbidden fruit to slaves to temples of death. It's all just a lot of rambling with no punchlines. Ramis and co. are going for a little bit of Mel Brooks, a little bit of Seinfeld, and a little Monty Python, just they fail miserably at all three. The only thing that comes close to funny and worth referencing is a looney slapstick fight between Cain and Abel that later keeps getting hammered to death through repetition.
And Jack Black is just insufferable in this kind of scenario. His brand of comedy is the hyperactive, off-the-rails, take everything to about a level 10 type that's worked well for him in movies like "School of Rock" and "Tropic Thunder", but with sub par material he is in fact a far below-irritating comic actor who just grates on you in every scene. And Michael Cera is doing his regular dorky hangdog shtick here and that's another problem with the movie in general. These two spend time mugging and doing their own improv, basically being themselves rather than the characters. They're both too modern to actually be believable in these roles. And most of the woman characters are too modern too. One mentions she's a lesbian. Another mentions that God may be a woman. Both seem to center on feministic principles that in year one might get a woman into a lot of trouble. Lastly, as if this movie doesn't try hard enough to work gross, we have to watch a hairy, effeminate Oliver Platt get oil rubbed on him in yet another scene that screams for laughs but only gets more groans. Please for the love of God, no "Year Two."
For more reviews, check out Leesmovieinfo.com