Let’s face it; a Jack Black film is hardly going to be unpredictable. One can imagine the pitch: loveable overweight loser (Black) falls for unobtainable girl, but (and here’s the twist boys and girls) how about this time we make him a caveman (how apt) who, with his best friend, goes on a quest that shakes up the ancient biblical world. Oh and we have to have at least one scene where he scats and he should be moving his eyebrows around constantly, the kids will expect it… hilarity ensues.
Don’t get me wrong, I like a stupid funny movie as much as the next person and I did a guffaw during this one. But when you can see a joke coming (girl lifts arm to reveal hairy armpit – HILARIOUS…for 1961) it’s not so funny. Fortunately on this venture Black has hooked up with Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Juno) as his sidekick while David Cross (Arrested Development, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Good Job!) delivers a scarily convincing portrayal as the psychopathic murderer Cain.
All in all Year One is quite amusing, following the journeys of best friends Zed (Black – the incompetent hunter) and Oh (Cera – the naive gatherer) after Zed eats forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge and they are kicked out of their caveman village. The duo decides to go on a quest to start their own awesome tribe when they stumble into Biblical times. As well as Cross’s Cain, they meet a slew of other characters a long the way, including that McLovin’ guy from Superbad (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) as Isaac, son of the Jewish leader Abraham (Hank Azaria).
As one would expect, the film does lean towards old school stereotypes (it was, after all written and directed by Harold Ramis, co-writer of Animal House and Meatballs). This does bring it down a bit. You would think that in this day and age that no one in their right mind would write a ‘sleazy mincing gay guy’ character (Oliver Platt as the High Priest) and deem it comedy gold.