Year One takes a trip back to prehistoric times for its inspiration, but unfortunately no one remembered to pack the comedy.
Going off of survival of the fittest standards, Zed and Oh would have been bred out of the species a long time ago. In a nutshell, they are lazy outcasts who are unskilled at both aspects of their hunter/gatherer way of life and cannot get the girls they want to “lay with.” When the tribe has had enough of them following Zed’s light snack from the tree of knowledge, he is exiled from the tribe, with Oh choosing to accompany him because two people are just so much funnier than one. Eventually they cross the distant mountain range from their home, discovering that it isn’t actually the end of the world and that there is a lot they were not aware of (insert random highlights from the bible and history books here).
Jack Black and Michael Cera are at the top of the cast list for this film, which includes many actors who know their way around a joke, from the veterans like Hank Azaria to the newer comedic actors like Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Unfortunately the script does nothing to show off the cast, but instead, tends to rely on a few comedic subjects for its humor. The few times they aren’t beating the dead horse with penis/sex jokes they actually makes comments about things relevant to the story in order to mock the beliefs of the time, such as jokes about the end of the world, the murder of Abel, and virgin sacrifices for rain. These jokes breathe fresh air into the film, but then quickly go the way of the penis jokes because there is haughtiness to the way the jabs at the past and religion draw attention to themselves, like “look at me mock this religious bologna! I’m so witty! Mock mock mock…”
Other than a few good jokes the majority of the comedy is found in the trailer moments and from a few actors that were in far too little of the film, such as Paul Rudd as Abel and Bill Hader as the shaman of the tribe. In retrospect these smaller parts may seem stronger than the acting from those found in the majority of the film because they didn’t have time to become uncomfortable with the script. Where they were at the top of their game for a few good lines, the leads remained their usual selves with Black often forgetting he was playing a part as he fell back into his usual shtick to Cera just being Cera the majority of the time (which is making me fear strongly for the fate of Scott Pilgrim vs., the World because he cannot be Cera in that role).
In the end this movie is about as amusing as you make it. Take my experience as an example: the majority of the time when I wasn’t taking note of costume changes I made it a game of discovering the different ways that this was the poor man’s version of 10,000 BC, with slightly more comedy and a blooper reel in the credits (which provides more laughs than the film). But even this was not enough to distract from how bad this movie is as it aimlessly wanders from one random plot point / joke set up to the next.
Final Grade: F+