Ramis is responsible for a lot of very big moments in comedy cinema.
The multi-talented writer/ director/ actor/ producer made his bones in
Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe and went on to scribe such classics
as Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and Analyze This.
Was it really necessary for the man who wrote the seminal comedy Animal
House and was a founding member of SCTV to hitch his established star to
Judd Apatow’s rocket? Year One is the first collaboration between Ramis
and the producer of such box-office zeitgeists as The 40 Year Old
Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad and with any luck, it is also the last.
time-tripping Year One follows Zed and Oh, a couple of cavemen who can’t
quite find their niche. Utterly incompetent in their macho world of
hunter-gatherers, the two are exiled from their village and decide to
see whether or not any life exists over their small patch of prehistoric
land. The Cro-Magnons run into a host of characters from the Old
Testament, including Cain and Abel, their dad Adam and the father of
monotheism, Abraham, before winding up in Sodom and Gomorrah.
suppose it was inevitable; in order to remain relevant and with it in
the eyes of the younger generation, that Ramis would want a dip in the
fountain of youth, but the hip new clothes just don’t fit. Outside of
the odd Mars bar in the pool, Ramis’ comedy managed to be hilarious
without delving into the gutter for its humour, so it’s off-putting to
see the abundance of puerile fart, puke and poo jokes that saturate Year
One. The plot is a less-clever rehash of Mel Brooks’ History of the
World: Part 1 premise only with more of a theology vs. science slant.
In roles that require no stretch at all, Jack Black trots out his wired
wild man routine and Michael Cera plays to type as the nebbishy
milquetoast sidekick. It’s presumed that dropping these two in the
middle of some of the Bible’s most famous stories would be amusing, but
they don’t really do very much more than make anachronistic comments on
scenes like Cain becoming the world’s first psycho killer, or Abraham
deciding that circumcision is a good choice for his entire nation. Some
of the observations are indeed clever, but the humour is bogged down
with the subplot of Zed and Oh’s rescue of their fellow villagers and
Zed’s going on about being the “chosen one.” Chosen for what, we never
know nor care. The film’s pacing is uneven and plows to a leaden thud
midway through with Ramis’ decision to end the journey at Sodom, when
the movie was clipping along fairly amusingly until they got there. In
this instance, I wish the director had followed Mel Brooks’ lead more
closely and gone further to have the guys meet Moses, Job, King David,
Samson. There’s plenty of comedy fodder Ramis could’ve taken advantage
of and picked up the dead weight of Year One’s second half. I don’t
know if more biblical references could have cured have cured all of Year
One’s ills, but at least I wouldn’t have been as bored.
small sparks of life to this comedy funeral are bit parts by folks like
Bill Hader, David Cross and Paul Rudd, but any gold to be mined out of
those cameos is for naught because the movie just isn’t very good.
Oliver Platt, as the lecherous High Priest of Sodom with the hots for Oh
and hot oil massages, is the only thing I can recommend from this
misfortune. I wouldn’t have minded the recycled plot if only there was
anything remotely clever and original as one might expect from Harold
Ramis to add to the party; instead we’re subjected to a tired premise
and gross-out jokes. Note to Mr. Ramis; the Fountain of Youth is
probably not located in a sewer.
Lady Miz Diva
Click here for our
interview with Director Harold Ramis
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