DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Year One - DVD Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}If a film sets its comedy sights for lowbrow, bottom-of-the-barrel comedy, and it consistently hits its intended target, is it a good film? In the case of Year One, the answer is a resounding no.

It's easy to see why the film's makers thought putting Jack Black opposite Michael Cera would be a good idea. Black's wild, animated antics should play quite nicely off the geeky, self-deprecating, straight man characterizations of Cera. And for the most part they do. But the problem is with the script. We expect more from co-writer Harold Ramis who brought us such bits of comedy gold as Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, and Caddyshack. But here he simply dumbs everything down to caveman level with an oversaturation of gay jokes, potty humor, and bodily excretion sight gags. The 12 year-olds in the audience will certainly find it funny, but the Family Guy crowd would never stoop to such a low brand of humor.

Year OneYear One begins as we meet loin-clothed Zed (Black) and Oh (Cera), the former an incompetent stone-age hunter, the latter an equally inept gatherer the humor coming from the depiction of class discrimination even at the caveman level. While the hunters get all the praise - as well as the attention of the women - the gathering is reserved for the females and any males who can't hunt. Oh can do neither, but unlike Zed who blames others, Oh finds a small level of comfort in his ineptitude and lowly place in the clan. Even so, the two eventually leave the tribe and set out for new lives, challenging the idea that the Earth is flat.

As the two wander across the desert and mountains, the geographical settings they encounter are clearly intended for skit setup purposes only, as there's no real relevance or validity in stone-age, jungle-dwelling cavemen meeting up with Biblical brothers Caine and Abel (David Cross and an uncredited Paul Rudd respectively), an Abraham (Hank Azaria) with a new way of honoring God (it involves circumcision) and later, the Old Testament cities of Sodom and Gemorrah. There's nothing inherently wrong with the skit humor approach however, since the film begins to take on the breezy feel of Mel Brooks's History of the World: Part I, or something from the Monty Python crew. But the similarities end there, as Year One is neither as clever as Life of Brian nor as funny as either of those films. Instead it's just plain stupid. And the humorous punches it does manage to land were already revealed in the trailers.

The running thread throughout the story is that Zed and Oh are constantly trying to free Eema and Maya (Juno Temple and June Diane Raphael) two beautiful cavewomen who were captured from their tribe and put into slavery in ancient Egypt. But predictably, the two bungling idiots cause more trouble than they provide solutions. We roll swiftly through the scene changes, often with such rough cuts it feels as if production of the film was rushed forward with an unfinished script and a handful of half-baked ideas. In one particular instance, when Zed and OH confront an angry cougar ready to pounce, the scene suddenly cuts to the next day and nothing more is mentioned about the potentially deadly encounter. Unfunny jokes that fall flat are one thing, but lazy writing and sloppy filmmaking are inexcusable. The proceedings seem to be rushing towards the third act that takes place in the sinful city of Sodom, for obvious reasons. Sodomy jokes are always the plentiful low-hanging fruit, and apparently Ramis and co-writer Gene Stubnitsky are not ashamed enough to visit that tree early and often.

Some may find enough entertainment in watching for the numerous cameos (including a part for Kyle Glass, Black's Tenacious D partner). Others will be adequately entertained by the closing credits that are accompanied by a collection of flubbed outtakes - a la the Burt Reynolds's Smokey and the Bandit films of the ‘70s. But most will see Year One for what it truly is; an unfunny comedy bit and a knuckle-dragging waste of time.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
1 Star
3 Stars
DVD Experience
2 stars

DVD

DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English, French

Language and Sound: English: dolby digital 5.1; French dolby 5.1

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Feature-length commentary track with director Harold Ramis, and actors Jack Black and Michael Cera.

Featurettes:

  • "Line-o-Rama (5:17)
  • Gag Reel (6:44)
  • Year One: The Journey Begins' (17:52)

Deleted Scenes (4:14).

Extended & Alternate Scenes (14:38)

Trailer - original theatrical trailer for Year One

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging + digital copy of film.

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