11th Commandment - Thou Shalt Enjoy Year One
Teen Critic Likes New Comedy… With Some Reservations
Friday, June 19, 2009
On the third day of this week I saw "Year One" (opening June 19 throughout San Diego) starring Jack Black and Michael Cera and it was good. In fact it was really good, just not in the way I expected. "Year One" combines the comedy titans Jack Black and Michael Cera in an effort to create a side splitting comedy. However Michael Cera playing the feminine- young-teenage-guy-too-shy-to-make-a-move-on-the-girl-he-likes and Jack Black playing the unconventional-edgy-badass-overweight-klutz-who-refuses-to-conform, can only please audiences so many times. And to make matters worse many of the best lines and scenes were in the trailer. In fact for the first twenty minutes I could quote most of the movie. So where does this movie go from a poorly made comedy to a movie worth paying to watch? Well there were some hilarious scenes and the slapstick humor did summon an occasional chuckle. But the historical elements and allusions to the Old Testament combined with a modern outlook was thoroughly entertaining.
When I was exiting the theater someone commented that this was our generation's "Life of Brian." I immediately told him he was wrong and should never consider going into movie reviewing as a career. (In case you haven’t seen "Monty Python’s Life of Brian," it happens to be one of the funniest if not the funniest movie ever made.) After some time had passed I realized that while it was no "Life of Brian," "Year One" employed very similar comedic elements. It portrayed the characters of the Old Testament with modern personalities while still remaining accurate within the historical context of that time. For example when Michael Cera and Jack Black spotted a girl giving them a flirtatious look to which Cera exclaimed, “She totally just eye-knew us!” Also the movie stayed consistent with the lack of hygiene and lifestyle of people at that time, unlike numerous other religious movies. I guess a basic knowledge of the Old Testament is required to truly appreciate the humor of this film.
So does this compare to "Tropic Thunder," "The Hangover," or even "Role Models?" Yahweh no. It falls short by a large margin. The humor was tacky and predictable for the most part because of how repetitive the roles of Cera and Black were. With the people involved with the film I expected much more. The director Harold Ramis also directed "Analyze This," "Caddyshack," and even a couple episodes of "The Office." To top it off the film featured "SNL’s" Bill Hader, David Cross from "Scary Movie 2," Vinnie Jones from "Smokin’ Aces," and even Oliver Platt from "Frost vs. Nixon." A pretty diverse but talented ensemble. And even if Black and Cera do get a little repetitive, they are still very likable and have done some amazing work in the past. So who’s to blame for messing up the perfect recipe for a side-splitting comedy? If I had to place the blame on anyone it would have to go to the writers. With a topic such as the Old Testament I feel like the writers could have done a lot more. The jokes were pretty much all slapstick and there were very few lines that were memorable (and those were in the trailer). The reality is that they relied on Jack Black and Michael Cera to make the script work and for the most part failed to reach the humor potential the film had. Still the movie gave me a few laughs and I really liked the modern outlook on ancient time period.
"Year One" is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, brief strong language and comic violence.
--Vikram Bhoyrul is a senior at The Bishop's School in La Jolla. For years film has been a passion of his. He would like to become a journalist when he grows up. His goal is to become an influential network anchor. At high school, he is the editor of his own school newspaper, and in college he wishes to major in journalism.