Making the Grades
Comedian Harold Ramis (writer of Meatballs, Caddy Shack and Ghostbusters) has put pen to paper once again and come up with what can best be called "Neanderthal humor" in Year One. The central characters of the story are Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera), two primitive men living near the dawn of time. Residing in a village where the citizens are either hunters or gatherers, Zed and Oh are essentially failures on both counts. The former is a super slacker who believes he has access to divine revelation after he takes a bite off the tree of knowledge. Oh, on the other hand, is a timid male with a penchant for creating gourmet salads. Not surprisingly, the duo is run out of town.
With the vague objective of looking for the edge of the world, the outcasts begin a road trip within a script that pays no attention to historical timelines. Running into characters and events recorded in the Book of Genesis (from the Holy Bible), they witness a murder between two brothers named Cain (David Cross) and Abel (Paul Rudd). Determined his story be told the “right way,” Cain invites the wanderers home to his father Adam’s (Harold Ramis) house. After dinner, Adam commands Zed to be fruitful and multiply by sleeping with his daughter only she turns out to be a lesbian.
The next morning the cave boys leave with Cain in tow (he’s worried Dad will discover the body). Soon they encounter Abraham (Hank Azaria) and his rebellious son Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). With the biblical father just about to stab his son, Zed intervenes. Later, over dinner, Abraham warns the pair of the dangers and sexual perversions in the neighboring town of Sodom. Anxious to leave as soon as possible, the pair heads for the infamous city.
If you think the plot has reveled a too much in irreverent adventure already, just think what a bit of imagination can do with the land of sodomy. While very little on-screen activity is seen, the dialogue and innuendo flows through the streets as the boys experience all manner of sexual situations including orgies and discussions of bestiality and incest.
Scatological humor seems to be something the script particularly favors Ramis even manages to recreate his excrement-eating scene from the 1980s Caddyshack (remember Bill Murray cleaning the pool?) when Zed far-too-intently examines scat left on a trail. Violence is also an issue with decapitations (a dismembered head is seen) and sexual mutilations discussed at length (a man keeps his removed organs in a bag which he later throws during a town stoning). Not surprisingly, language is no better with frequent sexual terms and the use of a sexual expletive.
Although it clocks in at only 92 minutes, the film feels painfully long. Whether or not you find desecration of religious figures to be personally offensive, there is still nothing in this film worth your family’s time—or money. And if we are really lucky, we won’t have to endure a Year Two.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Year One.
As soon as Zed and Oh are warned about the sexual permissiveness in Sodom they are anxious to go. Why are things that appear wrong so enticing to some people? How does the media use similar tactics today to entertain and sell products?