Thursday, June 1, 2017

Year One

Year One; comedy, USA, 2009; D: Harold Ramis, S: Jack Black, Michael Cera, June Diane Raphael, Juno Temple, Olivia Wilde, David Cross, Hank Azaria, Paul Rudd, Oliver Platt

Zed and Oh are two friends who live in a tribe somewhere in the jungle. When Zed eats from the forbidden fruit, nothing happens, but the shaman still banishes them both from the tribe. On their way to explore the world, Zed and Oh encounter two farmers, Cain and Abel, and spend the night at their place. When it is found out that Cain killed Abel, Zed and Oh flee again. They meet Abraham and stop him from killing his child, Isaac, but flee once again when Abraham demands circumcision. In Sodom, they find that Maya and Eema, two girls from their tribe, are held there as slaves. They manage to start a rebellion, overthrow the king and save Maya and Eema, as well as princess Inanna. Zed parts ways when he decides to lead the people of Sodom to Egypt.

Harold Ramis' final film is a sad and unworthy conclusion to his career, his weakest film, a one where he returned to the vulgar humor from his early days when he wrote "National Lampoon's Animal House" and "Caddyshack", except that this edition is worse, with several ill-considered ideas ranging from coprophagia, farting up to lame jokes of a high priest who enjoys when someone pours hot oil on his hairy chest, all of which undermine and sink the film. "Year One" is a bizarre film: it starts off as a satire of the Bible with the premise that the Tree of Knowledge, Abraham, Cain and Abel and Sodom and Gomorrah all happen in the same time period and thus the two protagonists go from story to story, yet it isn't sure what this is all about whereas it spends a disproportionate amount of time on the Sodom segment which features several vile moments. At best, the film manages to spoof and expose some absurdities of religion — for instance, Zed and Oh interrupt Abraham who wanted to stab his kid, Isaac, which leads to a comic exchange ("I didn't want to kill him! I just wanted to sacrifice him!" - "I don't think that matters to him."); in Sodom, people sacrifice virgins to the gods, so Oh conveniently saves a girl, a virgin, by having sex with her and there is a satire on the pointlessness of circumcision ("They cut a part of it, but there is plenty more where that came from!") — yet it seems even Ramis' sixth sense for comedy exhausted itself, leading to several misguided or empty moments. This is one bizarre moment after another, and you wait for it to finally end, and then it does and that's it. Indeed, an unecessary final film entry from a good director and writer.


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