There are those of us whose love of Jack Black goes beyond his widely appreciated performances in High Fidelity and School of Rock; moviegoers who find enjoyment in his projects even when they are less well received, projects such as Be Kind Rewind and Nacho Libre. The same may be said of the inimitable Michael Cera. For these moviegoers, the presence of the actors alone should elevate the project somewhat, but unfortunately it fails to do so. The film is likely to disappoint fans and non-fans alike.
Produced by comedy juggernaut Judd Apatow and directed by Harold Ramis, Year One is the story of Zed (Black), a Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer who sucks at hunting…and gathering. And life in general. Despite his obvious deficiencies, Zed develops mild delusions of grandeur, believing himself to be destined for great things. His quest for prominence in his community results in his banishment, and he drags his young friend Oh (Michael Cera) along with him into the unknown. On their journey they witness the first murder – a curiously black moment in an otherwise light-hearted comedy – and are soon after enslaved. The pair encounter English-accented femme fatale Olivia Wilde, and numerous oddball characters portrayed by the likes of David Cross, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria and Vinnie Jones; each have wonderfully realised characters, but not great comic material to work with. Because of this they provide sporadic chuckles, but never belly laughs.
What’s frustrating is that the setup for Year One is fertile comic ground, but most of the humour is near miss, and the funnier moments – acute observations of the bizarre way man has behaved for countless centuries – are sparse. In addition to figuring out what life is all about, the adventures of Zed and Oh involve rescuing two women from their village, Maya and Zed’s sister Eema. Zed is attracted to Maya, Oh to Eema, but neither one reciprocates...until the plot suddenly requires it. Both Black and Cera keep up their well-honed shtick, and that makes the movie watchable at least, if not very entertaining.
you may also want to check out this (slightly boring) interview with director Harold Ramis: http://makingof.com/filming_now/media/year-one/harold-ramis-on-year-one/23/201