Starring: Jack Black, Michael Cera, Olivia Wilde
Director: Harold Ramis
Running Time: 93 mins
Year One is an American film about two cavemen who are banished from their small tribe, but soon find themselves on an epic adventure that takes them to the centre of civilisation.
A comedy big on silliness and short on laughs, Year One definitely isn’t a movie to be taken seriously. But there really isn’t much to love about the movie, as the majority of its gags fall flat, its story is dull and repetitive and even its performances are uninspiring.
First things first, anyone expecting any degree of historical accuracy or genuine insight into ancient society here will be totally disappointed. Why you’d go into a Jack Black comedy expecting that, I don’t know, but if you are looking for something a little more intelligent, keep searching.
Year One is reminiscent of offbeat comedy classics like Carry On Cleo, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and even Life Of Brian. The last in that list is absolutely worth the watch, while the previous two are rather middling farces, but at least all have the odd memorable joke.
This film, on the other hand, throws gags and stupidity at you from beginning to end, and there are only a couple that really spark a chuckle. Its light-hearted atmosphere does at least make it an easy watch, but with so few laughs, it becoms painfully frustrating after a while.
Couple that with a story that starts off in moderately enjoyable fashion, but soon becomes static once we see our caveman leads find themselves at the centre of the region’s civilisation, with a barrage of increasingly farcical jokes backed up by nothing else.
The film’s attempts to satire both modern and ancient society by smashing the two together are generally unsuccessful and regularly feel forced, never quite having the ingenuity to cleverly bring two completely alien cultures together under one roof.
And finally, the performances are fairly disappointing too. Jack Black is energetic in the lead role, but it’s just like watching Jack Black jumping around for 90 minutes, with nothing really identifying him as this character in particular.
Michael Cera is typically awkward in the supporting role, but again does nothing to stand out in this film when compared to the rest of his performances as an awkward teen. And that, along with the film’s poor screenplay, points to a real lack of originality in Year One, which is ultimately what makes it such a disappointing watch.
Overall, I wasn’t at all impressed with Year One. Bar one or two chuckles, the vast majority of its jokes fall flat, its satire feels forced, its story is dull and ultimately static and repetitive, and even its A-list cast does little to make it particularly memorable. So that’s why I’m giving it a 5.3.