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DVD Review: Year One

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Year One is a comedic look at man’s beginnings starring Jack Black and Michael Cera. Zed (Black) and Oh (Cera) are cavemen who don’t fit in with their tribe. Zed is an inept hunter, while Oh is a gatherer whose talents lie in his mental capacities. After Zed eats from the tree of knowledge he gets banned from his tribe and persuades Oh to come with him to start their own tribe. Zed also accidentally sets his village on fire before his banishment, leaving his tribe homeless and ripe for bandits.

After the tribe gets captured, Zed and Oh try to track them down to rescue Maya (Juno Temple) and Eema (June Diane Raphael) who are the women they love. During their adventures the duo comes across well-known biblical characters including Cain and Abel (David Cross and Paul Rudd), Abraham (Hank Azaria) and Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), as well as legendary cities Sodom and Gomorrah. Once they track down Eema and Maya they must deal with the king (Xander Berkley) and his High Priest (Oliver Platt) who would rather play with the male slaves than female slaves. The duo are trying to find the girls, but get caught for entering the temple and are sentenced to be stoned to death. Zed convinces them to have mercy and have their sentence commuted to  hard labor until their deaths. Once the king decides to sacrifice two virgins (Maya and Eema) they scramble to save them, with Oh doing the only thing with Eema that would make her worthless as a sacrifice.

As a fan of Jack Black, Michael Cera, David Cross, and Paul Rudd, I had high expectations for this movie. Plus the trailer looked funny, but as we know trailers can be cut to make anything look good and unfortunately that was the case here. Year One comes across as a watered down version of the classic Mel Brooks film History of The World Part I. There are so many funny actors in this film but the material isn’t up to their caliber and wastes their talent and your time.

There are two versions of the film (not including the Blu-ray version); one has the theatrical release, and the other has an unrated version in addition the theatrical version. I received the theatrical version so I can’t comment on the other, however Year One was originally rated R and was trimmed to PG-13. So the unrated version may just be the original version of the film; however these days unrated just means some gratuitous female nudity and while I love the female form, naked women wouldn’t improve this film.

There are a good number of extras. First up is a commentary with Jack Black, Michael Cera, and director Harold Ramis. The trio really enjoyed working on this film and has a good time telling behind the scenes stories of shooting the film, which scenes were digitally enhanced, how certain stunts were performed, and the historical accuracy. Cera is quiet more often than the others since this commentary was his first time seeing the completed film. They also talk about thoughts for a sequel which means this commentary was recorded before its weak performance at the box office.

"Deleted Scenes" has a handful of scenes cut for time and as they didn’t add much to the plot weren’t missed.

"Extended & Alternate Scenes" lengthen certain scenes (which wasn't necessary) and allows viewers to see other versions of scenes that weren’t as strong as what made it into the film.

"Line-o-Rama"  — Anyone who is familiar with Judd Apatow’s films know this is a staple of his films where the actors improv some of their lines. Since Apatow is a producer on Year One, it’s not surprising to see that feature here and it's funny.

"Gag Reel" is your standard collection of flubs and stifled crack-ups. The cast and crew enjoyed making this film, and it’s too bad the final product doesn’t stack up to the star power within.

"Year One: The Journey Begins" is the making-of featurette, which has entertaining interviews with this cast and crew where they share their thoughts on the making of the movie.

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