“History was made…by these guys? Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) are cavemen who stumble out of the mountains into an epic journey of biblical proportions. One’s a bumbling hunter, the other’s a gentle gatherer; together, they become unlikely participants in history’s most pivotal moments. Directed and co-written by comedy legend Harold Ramis (‘Groundhog Day,’ ‘Caddyshack,’ ‘Analyze This’), ‘Year One’ is rude, crude, wildly absurd, deliciously tasteless and laugh-out-loud funny!”
“Year One” is rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief strong language, and comic violence.
A sure sign that a comedy is scraping the bottom of the barrel for laughs is when they resort to poop, fart, or pee jokes. “Year One” resorts to all three. Black as Zed tastes feces. Seth farts while sharing a bed with Cera’s Oh. And then, of course, Oh pees himself while hung upside-down in a dungeon. The expected results ensue. These jokes would have been a bit easier to take if the rest of the film had been funnier. Unfortunately, it’s not. The movie induces some chuckles, but there are very few of them. It all leads up to a grand finale that feels rushed and quite stupid. It’s like they couldn’t figure out an ending and just made it up on the set. It’s quite a disappointment.
That being said, I think Jack Black does a good job with the material he’s given. He’s funny as the idiotic, failed hunter. His conflicts with his tribe, Cera, and pretty much everyone he comes in contact with give him plenty of opportunities to act stupid and look like a buffoon. That’s what Black does best. Michael Cera plays the same character in every movie he’s in, but that’s what’s called for here. Oh is a wimpy intellectual that doesn’t fit in anywhere in this world. He’s constantly placed in awkward situations and that’s when he’s at his best. Pair him with Black and you have a good comedy team. It’s too bad the overall script didn’t deliver more. They are supported by June Diane Raphael as Maya and Hank Azaria as Abraham. Both are funny in their roles. David Cross is also funny as Cain and his brief battle with Paul Rudd as Abel is funny.
I’d only recommend “Year One” to fans of Jack Black and Michael Cera. They’ll probably get the biggest kick out of this otherwise mediocre comedy. It’s fine for a rental on an evening when there’s nothing else to do, but fans of Harold Ramis probably won’t have it on their list of his best films.
You’ll find your standard offering of bonus features on this DVD. There are deleted scenes, a gag reel, a ‘making of’ featurette, and an audio commentary with Harold Ramis, Jack Black, and Michael Cera. None of the bonus features really stand out, but it is interesting to see Black improvise a single line like 20 times in “Line-O-Rama” before he hits on the one they ultimately used in the film. You may also want to note that there’s a theatrical version of the film and a separately sold unrated version of the film. Look carefully before you pick up the DVD!