Year One Review: Ben Durr

June 25, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews

YEAR ONE: On General Release from Friday 26th June 2009.

If the age old adage ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ were to be adapted for film it would read: Never judge a film by its trailer.

I’d seen some clips from the Harold Ramis co-written and directed comedy Year One a while ago and hadn’t been that impressed.

Sure, it starred Michael Cera AND David Cross, and being a fanboy of anything Arrested Development this was a big deal. But nothing in the trailer actually made me laugh or piqued my interest (which is sort of the point of trailers).

Still, I went to the screening with – and I thought this important – an open mind and glowing heart.

I don’t mind admitting that just ten minutes into the film my mind was closing faster than a branch of Barclays on May Day and my heart was less aglow than it was somewhere around my small intestine.

The first ten minutes of a film are very important for drawing an audience in, reassuring them they made the right choice and hinting at joys to come.

Fairly quickly, though, Year One revealed that Jack Black was playing Jack Black and Michael Cera was, well, playing Michael Cera. And not even at their hilarious best.

The script, too, was lacking in anything remotely clever, instead relying on weak visual gags and the stock ‘bumbling but endearing losers’ trope to sell the leads.

Black and Cera play Zed and Oh, two misfits from a tribe of hunter gatherers. When Zed takes a bite from the fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge the pair are thrown out of the village and forced to forge their own destinies.

So far so nothing interesting. But as anyone who’s ever been on a long haul coach ride from Grimsby to Penrith in Cumbria will tell you, there’s nothing like a road trip to throw a few curve balls into the mix.

Or is there? The ensuing romp through the ancient world did indeed conjure up a host of zany Biblical characters, namely David Cross and Paul Rudd (briefly) as Cain and Abel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Isaac and director Ramis as Adam.

But the script seemed dull to the point of laziness and you get the impression the writers had a list of scenes they wanted to include yet, and I may be being a bit pedantic given the genre, there was very little justification for linking one part of the story to the next.

But it’s not all bad. Once the bumbling duo reach Sodom, where they plan to rescue their respective crushes and win back their tribe’s favour (will this plot ever get hackneyed?), there are a few laughs courtesy of Oliver Platt’s High Priest and Cera being turned into a human Academy Award.

Above all Year One is profoundly disappointing given its enormous budget and talented cast. It just goes to show that trailers don’t lie.

Don’t go and see this film if you like movies. Or have a brain.

Jack McKay

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