AWFJ Women On Film – “Year One” – Susan Granger reviews

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Producer/writer/director Harold Ramis’ supposed satire on Hollywood’s staple of Old Testament adaptations turns out to be more of an Abbott-and-Costello-like buddy movie that wallows in tasteless, crude, vulgar humor revolving around bodily functions.

Back when the Neanderthals ruled the huts and caves, the accident-prone hunter Zed (Jack Black) violates tribal law by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and the geeky gatherer Oh (Michael Cera) gets enveloped by a deadly snake. Having proven themselves inept at even the most rudimentary survival skills, they’re banished from their village. After crossing the mountains and wandering in the desert, these bickering, blithering idiots witness Cain (David Cross) quarreling with and killing his brother Abel (Paul Rudd), not once but several times, and prevent circumcision-obsessed Abraham (Hank Azaria) from sacrificing his son Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse a.k.a. McLovin from “Superbad”). Eventually, they make their way to the sin city of Sodom – “What transpires within the confines of Sodom stays within the confines of Sodom” – where they must rescue two of their tribe’s most nubile nymphs, Maya (June Raphael) and Eema (Juno Temple), from a vengeful king (Xander Berkeley).

“When do you think the smiting’s gonna go down?” one asks. Not soon enough.

Written – probably in papyrus – by the pagan Ramis along with the TV-trained team of Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (“The Office”), the script tastelessly mocks both superstition and organized religion with irreverent skits involving the reading of entrails and a hairy Sodomite high priest (Oliver Platt) with a penchant for hot oil massages. Moving at a glacially ponderous pace, it’s inexcusably gross, culminating with the usual closing-credit ‘outtakes.’ While Jack Black’s overt comedy works well in certain circumstances, he’s not a good foil for Michael Cera’s fey facade of insecurity. Perhaps the greatest conundrum is how this offensively raunchy mess got a PG-13 rating from the MPAA. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Year One” is an unfunny, repulsive 1. Thou shalt avoid it like the plague – at least until the dvd is released.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.