Movie: Year One
Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day. All these movies have at least two things in common. 1) They’re all considered comedy classics (ok, some more respected than others) and 2) they were all penned by Harold Ramis. Ramis is also credited with acting in many of these, and other classic comedies, as well as directing and producing many more. Probably the biggest movie news — involving Ramis — of recent times, is that he will appear along side the original cast in an upcoming addition to the Ghostbusters franchise.
Needless to say, I am a HUGE fan of this man’s work. When I was a kid, barely a week would pass without me watching Ghostbusters and, to this day, I can still recite the dialogue whenever the movie is on television (much like remembering the lyrics to a crappy 80’s song that you played way too many times, during the actual 80’s!). So, selling me a ticket to YEAR ONE — a movie, written, produced, directed and featuring this man — is not a hard sell. The question is, would I be expecting too much from Harold Ramis? Can Year One live up to the high watermark that he set during my (and his) youth?
Year One is a stupid movie. It’s pretty much pointless. And it’s completely awesome.
It can only be because of the weight that this man carries in Hollywood that this movie was ever made. On paper it would be almost impossible to sell this film to anyone. The plot is silly and is used mainly as a vehicle to drop Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) into a number of confrontations with random — mostly biblical — characters, all played by comedic actors more than capable of holding their own against the potent pairing of Black and Cera: David Cross, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria and Paul Rudd, to name only a few.
Even with such a brilliant cast, Michael Cera stands out. His character’s shy, bashful demeanor perfectly complements Jack Black’s usual manic performance. But Cera delivers just about all of the best lines, and most of them under his breath. Ramis provides a loose structure for these actors, but it’s clear that he has allowed them all to play to their strengths and the rapport between Black and Cera creates some hilarious moments. I’m not the biggest fan of Jack Black, but between this and TROPIC THUNDER he’s certainly starting to win me over.
Year One is puerile and smutty. The humor devolves often into dick and fart jokes and seems to intentionally try to make you as uncomfortable as possible at times. If you’re offended by such things, then this IS NOT the movie for you. For me though, I found myself constantly reminded of some of the comedies that are the most loved on my DVD shelf. Some by Ramis, and others by the likes of Mel Brooks. Nothing in Year One is any more crass than the content of something like HISTORY OF THE WORLD: PART ONE or LIFE OF BRIAN… so if you’re offended by a movies made in 1979 or 1981, chances are you wont appreciate this either.