Sunday, July 12, 2009

Year One

So I go from one of the funniest movies of the year to one of the worst. Unlike The Hangover which looked awful from the trailers and turned out to be hilarious, Year One looked awful from the trailers and turned out to be awful. The ingredients sound like they would make a great movie. A Harold Ramis parody starring Jack Black and Michael Cera, with Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt, and David Cross in smaller roles. A comedic mastermind leading a cast of fantastic stars. Somehow, it just never added up.

The movie essentially follows Zed (Black) and Oh (Cera) after Zed is banished from their tribe. They go off on their own and come across a slew of biblical characters. David Cross plays an underwhelming annoying Cain, and Hank Azaria lends his normally talented performance to Abraham. They also find two women from their tribe- conveniently the same two that had been the objects of Zed and Oh's affections (June Diane Raphael, and Juno Temple). The problem is that they are slaves. The rest of the movie revolves around Zed and Oh trying to free them.

There's nearly nothing redeeming about this movie. A movie must contain at least one compelling feature- good plot, good characters, be funny, or like Transformers just look really good. Unfortunately Year One has none of these. It's filled with warmed over references to circumcision, and sodomy. The one funny part was Eema (Temple) talking to Oh about being a slave. No coincidence that this scene was featured in every trailer.

I think the disappointment falls squarely on Ramis' shoulders. These are all very capable actors. Cera is one of my favorite rising stars, and honestly, he brought his awkward teenage years into the prehistoric setting with moderate comedic success. That alone, however, cannot carry a movie. No matter how good an actor is, he's can only do much with an awful script. In this case, however, it's not just the script that's bad. Scenes cut awkwardly from one to the next with little or no resolution. In a well constructed story, each scene should essentially contain a condensed version of the three act structure. In Year One, it's as if half the scenes are missing that third act.

Year One was awful, but I won't hold this against any of them- too much. Everyone is entitled to a bomb occasionally. There's no way this will affect the actors, and as for Ramis, I still have high hopes about the upcoming Ghostbusters movie. Maybe he'll redeem himself in that.


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