By Jonathan Smalls, Film Critic
The most appropriate comparison to between modern, comedic films and Year One is the relationship between Dawn dish soap and Dawn Ultra. It is concentrated and it is better. Once the film starts, the jokes just keep coming. Some are laugh out loud classics, some are stale annoyances, but the content is continuous throughout. One thing remains consistent right from the start though: the creative team Arrested Development behind this film uses every resource at their disposal to please and titillate the audience.
Harold Ramis, Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg come together to form a smart, witty, comedic team. Like the Captain Planet and the Planeteers when their powers combine, the product is greater than the sum of its parts. Any viewer who is a fan of subtle comedies like the Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm will see similarities in this film and enjoy it thoroughly, but there is still overt humor to keep the broader audience engaged. The story is a fast paced amalgamation of Biblical references, poking humor at stories from Adam and Eve to Sodom and Gomorrah. However as an (Old) testament to the wisdom of the writers, they tastefully exclude any representations or references to Jesus.
All of this praise is despite the casting of Jack Black. His presence brings a taste of low brow, over the top comedy to an otherwise smart and unexpectedly funny presentation. While this may serve to include another audience who are entertained by shouting, falling down and other, slap stick conventions, his performance is just a stale remix of his performances in School of Rock and Tenacious D. Michael Cera is the real star of the show. The writing and delivery here matches his experience with Arrested Development and Superbad, which opens him up to truly entertain. True, Black and Cera were type cast for their roles, but their disparate styles actually work well together. Black serves to set up situations for Cera and Cera never disappoints.
The film is rife with high profile names and familiar faces. For those who like McLovin from Superbad, we get the same Christopher Mintz-Plasse. For those of us who enjoy uncle Tobias from, we a taste of David Cross. For those who only like the Simpsons, we even get a look at Hank Azaria, the talented, voice actor behind many of the regular characters. All of the supporting cast lends their talents to make the most of their scenes and Year One is better off for it.
The summer season is in full swing for film releases. All of the major studios roll out their, most attention grabbing titles in hopes of reminding the public why movies are worth paying for. With a run time of only an hour and forty minutes, Year One fits their mold of short tales to populate the theatres and rack up ticket sales. This film in particular though gives the audience a little more value with its density of content and pacing and is well worth the viewing for all types and ages.