Director: Harold Ramis
Cast: Jack Black, Michael Cera, David Cross, Oliver Platt
When I was younger, I had a friend who had never heard of Monty Python. So I set about showing him The Life of Brian. He didn't laugh once. We don't speak that much anymore. Still, at least he didn't burn the DVD in disgust, or trample all over it. Year One, written and directed by Ghostbuster's Harold Ramis, does exactly that: jump up and down on comedy genius like a rhino on a trampoline made of small children. It's not big, it's not clever, and it's definitely not funny.
Zed (Black) and Oh (Cera) are hunter-gatherers, kicked out from their cavemen forest tribe after Zed eats the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge - at which point history gets a little confused. Embarking on a journey of discovery, they meet Cain (Cross), just as he batters his brother Abel (Paul Rudd) to death with a rock. Soon enough, they're in Sodom, where virgins get sacrificed, guards get sodomised, and slaves rub oil into the hairy chest of the High Priest (Platt).
With a cast of current and classic clowns, Year One is clearly meant to be a laugh. It isn't. There's not a single guffaw amongst all the jokes and cameos. And yes, that includes Vinnie Jones's guard. Meanwhile, for the first time in his career, it's easy to see why people don't like Jack Black: after 5 minutes of his usual shtick, he just gets incredibly annoying. Even Michael Cera's often-winning gawky charm doesn't work. And while it's nice to see Arrested Development's David Cross break onto the big screen, you wish it was with another film. Like, a good one.
By the end of it, you'll just be glad it's over - at only 90 minutes, it certainly feels like an epic movie. Except that Epic Movie was probably funnier. No doubt my old friend chuckled his way through both.