How can Harold Ramis, the man who gave us the great comedies of Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day, bring us such flat and lifeless material as Year One? Although not completely devoid of the odd laugh here and there (whether they're an accident or not), this is uninspired, lazy comedy filmmaking that makes a waste of its bucket loads of comedic acting talent.
Year One follows two lazy hunter-gatherers Zed and Oh (Jack Black and Michael Cera, respectively), who one day are banished from their tribe and primitive village, and subsequently they set out on an adventure and exploration of the ancient world. Along the way they they meet with various Biblical entities, including Cain and Abel, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Year One doesn't really seem to know what type of comedy it is; is it a raunchy comedy satirising the Bible, or a kid-friendly slapstick adventure? It awkwardly tries to be both, when it really should have picked one or the other. The result is a film that's unsuitable for the kids (I dread the parents who have to explain a lot of the sexual innuendos), but plays it too safe for most the adults to get much a kick out of it.
The lead role seems built for Black, considering he goes all out as far as being the zany, silly and lovable guy who plays the unlikeliest of heroes (a cliché the film goes back to time and time again). But it's nothing new, nothing different, nothing unique, but what else is to be expected in a broadly marketed and appealing comedy like this? Cera is just his usual self - think Paulie Bleeker turning up as in a hunter-gatherer costume at Juno's birthday party. He and Black have some good comedic chemistry but it's in vain when (for the most part) the material falls flat.