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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Darkmatters Review - Year One

Year One (12a)

Dir. Harold Ramis

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

ONE WORD SUMMATION: Weak-idol-offerings

Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to witness some comic tales from the bible’s Old Testament… The not so reverend Harold Ramis will conduct the lessons, mostly from Genesis, all of which feature two lesser known bible characters – Zed (Jack ‘Neverending Story III’ Black) and Oh (Michael ‘Juno’ Cera). These two loser primitives take low brow comedy to uncharted new unfunny depths, which is unforgivable given the potential Year One had to be a classic ‘prequel’ to Life of Brian.

As a bible reading Christian, I was amused at the depictions of the Old Testament characters – such as Adam (Ramis himself) and his sons Cain and Able - that original brotherly relationship that didn’t go so well. The sight seeing jaunt through Genesis also means we also get to meet Abraham (Hank Azaria), visit the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and witness the eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Some might be offended by the hit and miss fun being poked at the biblical characters, I was more offended by just how few laughs there were throughout. Year One limps along in a series of skits, resorting to toilet humour often when the script fails to be funny. Jack Black – who I’m sure used to be funny – plays his usual over the top persona which we’ve seen a million times now, whilst some credit must go to Michael Cera whose droll straight man act at least allows him to walk away from this car wreck with some dignity.
Love interests for the two heroes come in the shapely forms of Maya (June Diane Raphael) and Eema (Juno ‘Atonement’ Temple) but they are given little to do except be sold into slavery at every turn. The patchy supporting cast also includes ‘rent a hard man’ Vinnie Jones as Sodom ‘s head of security and a creepy High Priest (Oliver Platt) who takes a bit of an unhealthy shine to Oh.

"This is about as deep as Year One gets..."

There have been less funny ‘comedy’ films but I’m struggling to think of one this year, especially after The Hangover which was just excellent. On the strength of this Ramis should forget about ancient history and bring back Ghostbusters (he wrote the latest PS3 videogame version which is great fun and shows that he’s not completely lost his touch).
Alas, if you want a religious based laugh-a-thon then you’d be better served by The Da Vinci Code which is a comedy riot compared to Year One.

Not convinced? check out this mini review of the film over at FilmJerk.com:

"'Year One' is not quite the death of comedy, but it tries for a cartwheeling tone of irreverence and buffoonery that doesn’t quite fit in with today’s presentations of irony and sarcasm, and lacks the crisp, filling writing of yesteryear. There’s barely more than a few laughs during the entire film, but I suppose there should be some appreciation offered for even attempting an expansive giggle melee such as this. And then a character decides to eat a piece of poop. And then 'Year One' becomes an inexcusable misfire from a group of professionals who really should’ve known better.”

Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: ööööö (5 - patchy and weak despite great premise and cast)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:

Action 6
Style 6
Babes 6
Comedy 6
Horror 4
Spiritual Enlightenment -5

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