Year One


Now, here’s the kind of stupid movie I can get behind.

Zed (Jack Black) is the worst hunter in his tribe. His best friend Oh (Michael Cera) is a weaselly gatherer who is regularly picked on by the local bully. Following a tribal faux pas, the two are exiled to the land beyond the mountains and… have a bunch of adventures. I have a feeling this is the extent of the pitch the studios would have received – there’s really not much else to it.Year One Oh, there are many religious incursions into the plot – even ones that this heathen could recognise – though they’re of little consequence, really.

I’m not exactly sure when this is supposed to be set. Zed and Oh seem to be prehistoric types, though quickly stumble across an advanced civilization. They bump into Cain and Abel (amongst others) and seem fascinated by the invention of the wheel. This means that it definitely isn’t 1 A.D. Confusing as this may be, the fact that it’s a comedy makes it less frustrating than 10,000 B.C.

The script ranges from the terrible to the mediocre. All of the film’s highlights come from Black and Cera and if you’ve never found them funny before, then this film isn’t for you. Black plays exactly the same character he always does (a loud mouthed tubby guy who thinks he’s God’s gift to mankind) as does Cera (an insecure innocent whose sentences trail off into nothingness). And you know what? This is fine with me. They’re hilarious.

It’s apparent that the film would have been tragic if the lead roles were in anyone else’s hands, because the dialogue isn’t at all clever. Instead it’s Black and Cera’s very different approaches to comedy that work so well. The supporting cast fail to impress very much. Eema (Juno Temple) and Maya (June Diane Raphael) are the object of our hunter’s and gatherer’s affection though neither get to do much, whilst Paul Rudd, David Cross, Hank Azaria and Christopher Mintz-Plasse all come and go without making much of an impression. I keen for Oliver Platt, who gets to play ‘gross fat guy’ (much as he did in the Heath Ledger Casanova) – it’s such a tragedy that he’s been reduced to this.

Of course, nothing will compare to Groundhog Day, but Harold Ramis’ attempt at a stupid comedy succeeds only through the talents of Black and Cera. It’s a film for DVD, to be sure, but has enough laughs to keep you going.

Mark would hate it.

Rating: 2.0 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 4th July 2009
Hoopla Factor: 3.0 stars

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince