Review: Year One

"Year One" is one of those rare movies that can't possibly be as bad as the trailer makes it look ... but is. Actually it's kinda worse. Sex jokes, gay jokes, incest jokes, lesbian jokes, poop jokes, urine jokes, bestiality jokes, no story, an episodic plot, fewer laughs and dialogue that's mostly ad-libbed, makes extra sure of that.

Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) play hunter-gatherer cavemen who don't quite fit in with their small tribe. Both are clumsy, intensely disliked and in unrequited love with a couple of lovely cavewomen. After Zed breaks rule number one and tastes the forbidden fruit, he's exiled. For some reason, Oh follows along and they set off on a series of tedious antics involving Biblical characters, the city of Sodom and whole lot of wondering as to what director Harold Ramis, the genius behind "Groundhog Day," "Analyze This," "Caddyshack" and "Vacation," was thinking.

Judd Apatow is one of the producers, so that explains the overlong scenes full of unfunny, self-indulgent ad-libbing, but there's practically no story. Like a foul-mouthed, sex-obsessed Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, the duo heads off on the Road to Interminable drifting from one "comedic" set up to the next riffing along the way in that annoying, hesitant-enhanced, post-modernspeak that passes for clever dialogue nowadays: "Yeah, I know, but ... you know, if you were ... because I could ... and then we would - you know what, forget it."

Beyond plodding, many of the individual scenes are also choppy. Scenes end abruptly as though what the makers had on film was so bad there was no other choice. The whole affair reeks of sloppy, laziness or plain old poor planning that couldn't be salvaged in the editing room.

The timespan of the film makes little sense. Our protagonists start out in prehistoric times but then walk their way into the Old Testament era of Cain, Abel and Abraham. I bought it, but those of you who didn't skip World History to smoke Newports and listen to Led Zeppelin might find it jarring.

In many ways, "Year One" most resembles Mel Brooks' "History of the World: Part 1 (1981)," but one of those ways is that neither is a very good movie. As far as any talk about how the film mocks the Bible... The satire is silly, not mean-spirited, so some effort would have to go into being offended.

If you're desperate for prehistoric antics this weekend, Netflix Ringo Starr's "Caveman" (1981). It's no classic, but there are at least a half-dozen laughs (six more than you'll find in "Year One") and Ringo's wife, Bond-babe Barbara Bach, will help you to forget all about the comedic lulls.


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