Anthony's Film Review

Year One (2009)

Sadly, this comedy feels too amateurish and poorly executed for it to be funny...

Year One doesn't just describe the premise of the movie, about people living in the first official year of human civilization (at least according to the Christian calendar). It also suggests the level of creativity and expertise of whoever worked on this movie. In other words, this is a movie that looks as if it was made by people in their first year of film school. It's not to say that very little effort was put into its production design, costumes, etc., but there is still a lack of energy put into its execution. It's as if the actors in the film are just reading their lines without the enthusiasm that great actors, in much better movies, would have for their roles.

In fact, here is the one criticism I have about Year One that pretty much gives it the star rating I think it deserves. The characters are speaking entirely in modern tongue, as in the kind you hear in the year 2009. I do realize that this movie taking place in the distant past is supposed to be a comedy and shouldn't have to be entirely accurate historically. But come on. At least put SOME effort into making the characters sound like they come from the world back then. Instead, watching the characters in this movie is the equivalent of seeing modern college students acting badly in a historical play.

I say this because the story then becomes a bore and a drag. Jack Black as a villager named Zed takes a bite of the Forbidden Fruit. The reaction to this from his friend, villager Oh, played by Michael Cera, is so casual and uninspired that I no longer expected the movie to get interesting. And this is in the first few minutes of the movie. So Zed and Oh are banished from their village, and their adventure towards better things leads them over a mountain, into a desert, and ultimately to the city of Sodom. They encounter Hebrews, lovely women, toughened warrior guards, and various other characters. Even so, the movie is so flat and bland.

Whether or not Year One is intended to be a Biblical satire isn't important. The jokes are of the juvenile type and seem out of place in this movie taking place in the distant past. I'm sorry, but things like fart jokes, lesbians, and sexual innuendoes while eating food seem to belong in another movie. I'm not offended by this type of humor. I'm just not looking for that here. And on top of this, the jokes aren't delivered well. I always believe that humor is best presented when its punchline and timing are unexpected. Here, I could predict what the joke will be just when it's about the happen.

Jack Black and Michael Cera aren't bad actors, but they deserve to be in a much better movie than Year One. Director Harold Ramis also deserves to work on something better than Year One. It's a waste of their good talent. Instead of a memorable comedy about early humans that allows its cast and crew to evolve their skills (pun intended), we have something that takes cinema many steps back. Really, you can skip Year One for something a whole lot better, something more intelligent and advanced (pun intended again).

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Year One, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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