Review: Year One

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Published on: 2009.06.21

We knew Year One would be pretty silly, and possibly plain stupid. And it was.

The movie’s basic premise follows forbears like History of the World Part I and Life of Brian , but also seems like a spoof of 10,000 BC .

(Spoiler alert!)
Basically, two cavemen leave their village to explore the world. They discover Cain and Abel not to far away, and witness Cain killing Abel. But before long, they’ve run into Abraham and Isaac, just as Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac . The two main characters go on to Sodom , after hearing it’s a wild party town, and there try to free their fellow-villagers, who were taken as slaves.

In between, there are some crudely funny parts, but I found the biblical/historical jumps to hurt my brain. These ignorant cave men stumble into a city that’s using metal armor and swords. They see Cain and Abraham in the same week. There’s no Flood , which should have happened between Cain and Abraham.

In the end, the two cave men save their fellow villagers (and the two women they love), as well as releasing all the other slaves, end the drought, and convince everyone to live their lives without listening to totalitarian despots.

Jack Black and Michael Cera star as the two main cave men, which was probably a joke in itself. Black obviously could be a cave man, with his squat build, pre-evolved skull, and excess hair. But Cera is about the farthest thing from a cave man there is. Early in the movie, when his hair is long, he could easily be mistaken for a fair-skinned female member of the tribe.

Both of these actors continue to play the roles they’ve played in past movies. In Cera’s case, it’s the only role he’s able to play — the same character from Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist , Juno , and Superbad , and basically reprising his character from Arrested Development . Black seems to have the same problem — playing almost the same person in every movie, and it starts to wear pretty thin in this one.

But the acting nonskills of these two are covered up by the excellent additions from Oliver Platt , Vinnie Jones , Hank Azaria (as Abraham!), Olivia Wilde , and David Cross .

In all, I rated it a 5 out of 10 — one of my lower ratings in the past few years — simply because it didn’t go anywhere. There were dozens of funny moments (much of it “potty humor”), but there was little of a lasting impression at the end. Also, most of the funny stuff was in the middle, with a pretty weak beginning and a lame and predictable ending.

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