Review: 'Year One'

A cave man road trip with Jack Black that is long on dumb comedy and short on goofball smarts.

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    In this image released by Columbia Pictures, Jack Black, left, and Michael Cera are shown in a scene from "Year One."
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The first thing to be said about "Year One" is that it does not take place in Year One. The second thing to be said is that it doesn't live up to its hilarious poster featuring a Neanderthal-ish Jack Black and Michael Cera and the tag line "Meet Your Ancestors." The third thing to be said is that it is only marginally better than "Land of the Lost." The fourth thing to be said is that, as you may have deduced from No. 3, it is grindingly unfunny.

Since I am an aficionado, as 'twere, of dumb/smart goofball comedy, I was disappointed to realize early on that "Year One" is basically just dumb/dumb. Jack Black plays Zed, a human furball who looks and acts pretty much the way Jack Black does in every one of his movies. Michael Cera, as Oh, is pretty much the same old Michael Cera – anxious, tentative, virginal. That last part comes in for a lot of ribbing in "Year One." Didn't anyone in the Paleozoic Era see "Juno"?

But, as I already mentioned, most of this movie takes place in a biblical/Roman-era mishmash, with some Egypt thrown in. Zed and Oh, buddies banished from their village, encounter everybody from Abraham (Hank Azaria) to Cain (David Cross) to – I hope I'm not giving anything away here – Zaftig the Eunuch (Kyle Gass). Director and co-screenwriter Harold Ramis is aiming for a Hope-Crosby road picture feel, which only works if the lead actors know how to riff off each other. Here, they don't.

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If you're in the mood for this sort of thing, why bother with "Year One" when you can rent "Caveman" or Mel Brooks's "History of the World – Part 1" or, better yet, any old Monty Python movie (especially "Life of Brian"). The people who made "Year One" seem to think that all you have to do to make a hit comedy is get a bunch of jokesters together. But where are the jokes? Grade: D+ (Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, brief strong language, and comic violence.)

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