posted by Allison, 6.18.09
Can’t say we’ve seen much historical comedy since Mel Brooks and Monty Python were done with it (and Encino Man doesn’t count). But in theaters this weekend is Year One, an historical comedy (think B.C.) starring Jack Black and Michael Cera.
Directed by Egon himself, aka Harold Ramis (Analyze This, Ghostbusters), and co-written by Gene Stupnitsky (The Office), Year One follows the adventures from cave to civilization of Zed (Black) and Oh (Cera). After failing at either of the two possible career paths in his village — hunter or gatherer — and eating the forbidden fruit, Zed is banished. Oh becomes his reluctant partner after a funny scene (with Bill Hader as a screaming Shaman) in which Zed accidentally burns down his hut.
If the forbidden fruit weren’t enough of a hint, you soon learn that this film has taken a biblical twist after Zed and Oh come across Cain and Abel (played by Paul Rudd and David Cross, respectively) and there are many, many cameos to come. They meet up with Adam (Harold Ramis’ small part) and Eve; Abraham (Hank Azaria) and Issac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse from Superbad and Role Models); the sinners of Sodom (but not Gomorrah); the royal family (with House’s Olivia Wilde as the princess) and their High Priest (a deliciously and disgustingly naughty Oliver Platt).
The film is riddled with gross-out humor, some of which elicits eye rolls and some of which has the audience screaming and laughing. And there’s smart humor on top of that (not just counting the reference to Gilgamesh). Michael Cera and the supporting actors are hilarious in the film. Jack Black… well, Jack Black is funny but in the same way he’s been funny for years. Having recently re-watched High Fidelity, it reminded me how funny it is to meet that Jack Black character for the first time. And how I eventually tire of it, sadly enough. Doesn’t mean he’s not funny — it’s just the same ol’ same ol’. I wonder if I’ll say the same about Cera a few years from now.
Among the zillions of costume changes and girl chasing, we get a moral of how the bible might just be misinterpreting what really happened and that those who gain power can write or re-write history. Year One perhaps covers the intriguing questions about life, God, and religion even better than Religulous or The DaVinci Code. Overall, a funny and actually thought-provoking film. My biggest complaint: an underused Horatio Sanz.