It’s supposed to be funny when Jack Black takes a taste from a pile of animal droppings. It’s supposed to be humorous when Black and Michael Cera argue over religion, women, and the varying perspectives of circumcision. And it’s supposed to be hilarious when the mismatched duo engages in a slow-speed ox-cart chase, holy sanctity violation, and massive biblical interference. Well, it is. But when you realize what you’re laughing at, you’ll likely fear for the decline in your level of maturity and the subsequent and proportionately diminishing brain cell count inherent with viewing this degree of absurdity.
Both Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) are completely inept at their respective roles as hunters and gatherers in their small prehistoric woodland village. Cast out from their tribe after Zed eats fruit from a forbidden tree, the two wander the land in search of the ends of the earth – but instead they begin disrupting the lives of several biblical figures and wind up on an adventurous rescue mission that will take them into the decadent city of Sodom (an ancient Las Vegas).
It’s not that we’d necessarily expect more from veteran comedy writer/director Harold Ramis, but Year One almost entirely resorts to immature, gross-out humor. Nearly every gag attempts to top the previous one with jokes that push the limits of sexual deviance and good taste – and the PG-13 rating that it landed after being edited down from an R. Jack Black and Michael Cera are definitely up to the challenge of dueling for the crown of crudity, but it’s almost as if we’re witnessing two hours of improvisation. They may be dressed in historical garb and thrust into 10,000 BC sets, but they’re still just Jack Black and Michael Cera, and the wit and dialogue reeks of the typical shticks that unavoidably appear in every one of their films.
It may go slightly beyond the blueprints for a formulaic parody movie, but it has all the same symptoms. The recruiting of recognizable cameo roles is amusing, but the rest is a pointless plot that introduces and resolves conflict with little attention to believability, historical and political incorrectness, boner and fart jokes, constant remarks about genitals (including a particularly lengthy comment on sheep balls), constant sexually suggestive actions (without actually showing nudity) and the literal eating of crap. There’s a place for harmless but empty, filthy drivel like Year One – a comedy that can be enjoyed for it’s refusal to rise above repetitive, lewd material – but it must be taken in moderation… along with circumcisions, wine and sponge cake.
– The Massie Twins (www.GoneWithTheTwins.com)