Jungle
Year One

Going into Year One, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’d been loosely following the development of the film since it was first announced over a year or so ago. Harold Ramis, Jack Black, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse…produced under the Apatow umbrella. It seems like the perfect crew for a laugh-apalooza. And the fact that it takes place during the early Old Testament sounded like a fresh (if a rather historically ancient) setting for the talents of those involved.

If it sounds like I’m getting you ready for the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech, then yes. I am. Or rather, getting you ready for the “it’s funny, but not fantastic” speech. The jokes are pretty steady and Black and Cera have rather good chemistry together, but something about Year One seems lacking.

We start out with Zed (Black) and Oh (Cera) and their tribe of hunters and gatherers in and around the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It’s not long before Zed promptly eats one of its apples, despite warnings to the contrary. From there they encounter such OT luminaries as Cain and Abel, Abraham and Isaac and others. They have fun spoofing some of the weirder elements of the OT, including the whole circumcision thing.

And therein lies the main problem. Characters pop up all over the place, jokes flow fast and free. Yet this pretty much feels like a bunch of prehistoric sketches linked together, rather than a fully developed plot with a solid storyline. You’re jumping from location to location and yet when you get to the final stopping point and the movie starts winding down, it feels like it’s barely gone anywhere.

So while I had pretty high hopes for Year One, I’m left feeling somewhat letdown. It’s definitely a situation of the whole not being the sum of its parts. Check it out if you’re a huge fan of one of the folks involved. But this is probably best enjoyed as a rental.

Oh and one last thought: there is a ton of crude humor here, including sexual humor, sex-with-animals humor, gay humor and the aforementioned foreskin humor. It’s funny, but despite the PG-13 rating, the filmmakers got away with a lot here. Just know that it’s not necessarily a “fun for the whole family” flick. Unless your family is down with that sort of thing.
 

Jeremy Hunt
Review by Jeremy Hunt
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