Perhaps it takes an extremely overstressed individual to enjoy the juvenile humor, messy plot and flat writing in "Year One," this summer's newest comedy. In theaters today, "Year One" follows the mishmash journey through ancient and Biblical history of two clueless cavemen (Jack Black, Michael Cera), forced to roam the earth after being ousted from their small tribe of hunters and gatherers.
The premise--the first "road trip" -- is clever enough, but the movie fails to deliver much in the way of laughs. The main characters discover that the world is not flat, and instead is full of interesting people (Father Abraham, Sargon the Great), advanced technology (the cart and the wheel) and a strange phenomenon called religion.
But the cleverness ends there. As usual, Jack Black ("The School of Rock," "King Kong," "Tropic Thunder") plays...Jack Black, with his now familiar comic routines, slightly more hair and a variety of prehistoric costumes. The real letdown is Michael Cera ("Juno" and "Superbad"), who plays the gentle gatherer to Black's hysteric hunter. Cera's character has a few good lines, most of which can be seen in the trailer for free, but halfway into the movie, it's clear that he is just around to serve as a weak antidote to Black's predictable antics. There may not be toilets in Year One, but bathroom humor abounds.
The supporting cast is just as disappointing. Performances by David Cross, Hank Azaria and even Christopher Mintz-Plasse (aka McLovin' of "Superbad" fame) are neither memorable nor very funny. Even Paul Rudd, a patron saint of "bromance" movies, was unimaginative as Cain's (Cross's) brother Abel. Fortunately for Rudd, he has limited time on screen. If you have to play any part in this movie at all, a brief cameo is most ideal.
Harold Ramis, the comedic force behind "Caddyshack" and "Ghostbusters," directed and helped write the screenplay. "Year One" follows in the shallow footsteps of "Nacho Libre" or "Be Kind, Rewind" -- the pre-release hype is never as good as the movie itself. This is nothing new for Jack Black, but Ramis can do better. Here's hoping there's no Year Two.
By By Molly Kordares