Release Date: June 19th, 2009
Click here for the Year One Trailer.
Zed(Jack Black) is a hunter caveman in the first year of man's existence. However, Zed is the worst hunter and isn't even capable enough to be a gather like his best friend Oh(Michael Cera) who is already deemed weak because he is the only male gatherer which is considered a woman's job. While Zed and Oh are out exploring, Zed runs into the famed Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The one rule of the world is not to eat of that tree, but Zed decides to do it anyway, despite the disapproval of Oh. Believing that he is now the smartest man of the tribe, Zed and Oh return to camp to partake in the feast provided by Morlack, the tribe's best warrior/hunter. During the feast, the tribe learns of Zed's breaking of the one rule and the tribe shaman(Bill Hader) banishes Zed for ever. Angry at the tribe, Zed vows to make his own tribe and asks if anybody wants to join him. Only Oh decides to go with him.
While traveling, the two come across a herd of cattle and Zed attempts to kill one. When he is unsuccessful two brothers, Cain(David Cross) and Abel(Paul Rudd), appear and begin to converse with Zed and Oh until a fight breaks out between Cain and Abel. Cain takes a rock and kills Abel and asks Zed and Oh to help him cover it up. The three of them then return to Abel's home where they meet Cain's father Adam(Harold Ramis) who lets them sleep there for the night. In the morning, Abel tells Zed and Oh that they need to get out of town because everybody is going to blame them for Abel's death. The three then flee into the city.
When they get to the city, Zed and Oh find Maya(June Raphael) and Eema(Juno Temple), the two woman from the tribe they wanted to "lay" with, have been captured and sold into slavery. When Cain goes to negotiate for the release of Maya and Eema, Zed and Oh end up becoming slaves. While en route to their owner's home, the slave caravan is attacked by soldiers from Sodom who take all the slaves except for Zed and Oh who manage to escape. Zed and Oh plan to wait for the soldiers to fall asleep to rescue the girls but end up falling asleep themselves. The two wake up to find the soldiers are gone. Zed and Oh begin walking. They come to a mountain where they find a man named Abraham(Hank Azaria) preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac(Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Abraham believes Zed and Oh are angels sent by God to stay his hand. Abraham invites Zed and Oh to his home where they feast. Zed and Oh then learn of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and realize that Maya and Eema are being held in Sodom. When Abraham tries to circumcise Zed and Oh, the two quickly leave and head for Sodom. They are followed by Isaac who wants the two to sneak him into Sodom to party. Isaac runs away when Zed and Oh are taken prisoner by Sargon(Vinnie Jones), Sodom's military General. The two are about to be tortured when Cain, who is now a Sodomite soldier, walks in. When he is recognized by Zed and Oh he tells Sargon that they are his brothers and they are released.
Cain then makes Zed and Oh soldiers in the Sodomite army. The three men are walking around the city when Princess Inanna(Olivia Wilde) is ushered by. When all in the city except Zed, who is intoxicated by Inanna's beauty, bows before her, Inanna believes Zed to be "The Chosen One". Inanna sends her handmaiden, who happens to be Maya, to fetch Zed and invite him to a party. Zed is taken into the palace to clean up while Oh is forced to go off with Zaftig the Eunuch(Kyle Gass) who paints Oh's entire body gold and makes him act as a living statue at the party. At the party, Oh finds Eema who is working as a slave server. But before Oh can talk to her he is summoned by Sodom's openly gay High Priest(Oliver Platt) who forces Oh to rub warm oil all over his extremely hairy body. Zed is then ushered to his meeting with Princess Inanna who, thinking he is the chosen one, wants him to enter the Holy of Holy Temple and tell her what it is like in there. When he enters he finds Oh who is hiding from the High Priest. The two get into an argument and leave to find the King(Xander Berkley) and his guard waiting for them. The King was made aware of them entering the Temple by Cain. As punishment for their crimes they are sentenced to be stoned to death. But Zed pretends to be the "Chosen One" which gives them a lesser sentence.
The King, feeling betrayed by Princess Inanna, decides to make her and two virgins sacrifices to the gods in return for rain. Zed and Oh realize that the two virgins are Maya and Eema. Zed and Oh then stage a desperate rescue attempt which insights a riot. Oh rescues Eema and Zed grabs Maya while all the authoritative powers are killed. The Sodomite then want Zed to be their leader because they believe him to be the "Chosen One". Zed declines and decides to become an explorer with Maya. Oh decides to take Eema and form his own tribe and the two part ways, but not after a tearful goodbye.
Directed by Harold Ramis(Groundhog Day, Analyze That) I expected a bit more from this movie. I did have mixed feelings about this movie. When I saw the previews I thought it looked like an interesting comedy on a subject that hadn't really been touched. And when it came out, I heard of all the negative reviews it was getting. But, I wanted to see it myself and give it my own score and I was happily surprised. This movie had a very interesting concept, taking viewers back to the very beginning of time. Director Harold Ramis took most of the concepts for the movie from the Holy Bible. Cain and Abel, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Abraham and Isaac, and Sodom and Gomorrah are all straight from the Bible. These concepts, however, made for a decently funny concept to what some people perceive as the beginning of man. Jack Black adds his unique style of comedy to the movie with his fast paced and crazy antics while Michael Cera added the balance with his calm, meek, timid sense of comedy. The two really are a good balance. The comedy isn't extremely over the top thanks to Cera and it isn't too bland and calm thanks to Black. Add in other comedy players like David Cross, Oliver Platt, and Hank Azaria and you have a nice blend of different comedy styles that mesh well with each other.
I do think there could have been so much more to this movie. Harold Ramis is a funny actor and a really good director/writer of comedy movies with such great classics like National Lampoon's Animal House, Caddyshack, and Ghostbusters. But his comedic prowess seemed somewhat lost in Year One. The movie was funny, but only decently funny. It had potential to be extremely funny but some of the jokes seemed to be lost in translation and some punchlines left out. I would also have liked to see a different comedic side of Jack Black. All his roles seem to be the same and I think the movie would have been better if Black explored his inner comic deeper and pulled out something original. Cera brought his interesting take on comedy with his mild mannered demeanor. Cera definitley has a different take on comedy, and it is really refreshing. While the insane antics of comics like Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, and even Jack Black are very funny, it is nice to see a different aspect of comedic style portrayed by Cera. He has a sort of innocent style of comedy that makes him lovable as well as hilarious.
All in all this was a decent comedy worth an initial view and maybe more if you really enjoy it. Fans of Jack Black will enjoy the actors trademark antics and will also find Cera to be a nice counterpart. The same goes for the fans of Michael. A good movie but one that did not live up to the potential it had. Some decent humor and a unique and interesting story grants Year One 6.5 Incompetent Caveman out of 10.
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