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.