Jack Black stars as Zed and Michael Cera stars as Oh, a hunter and gatherer outed from their village after Zed eats a piece of forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge (which gives him an ego trip as he thinks he’s automatically intelligent). Along the way, they meet brothers Cain and Abel (Paul Rudd & David Cross), Abraham (Hank Azaria) and his son, Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the High Priest (Oliver Platt) and Princess Inanna (Olivia Wilde), all while trying to save their friends/crushes Maya (June Diane Raphael) and Eema (Juno Temple) from being slaves.
Year One is a typical comedy that uses the biblical setting as its crutch. It’s not entirely bad, but it’s not good either. A good portion of the jokes fall flat, most of those being fart jokes (which I rarely find funny). There are a few chuckles here and there, but they’re far and few between.
The slew of cameos is a pleasure to see, but at the same time questionable. Paul Rudd, David Cross, Hank Azaria and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are expected and fit in well. But, Oliver Platt and Vinnie Jones (as Sargon) feel out of place. In the case of Oliver Platt, he comes off as creepy as the hairy High Priest who seems to take a liking to Oh (there’s an oiling scene that’s unsettling instead of funny).
Harold Ramis (yes, that Harold Ramis) does a decent job of directing. He can only go so far with the mediocre humor. It is quite sad to see him directing Year One, as he is better than this (Vacation, Groundhog Day and Analyze This are good examples).
Year One feels like Monty Python without the humor. It goes for the cheap gags, whilst Ramis directs Black and Cera as their usual characters (which are all the same, just with different names). There may be a few chuckles, but they don’t make up for the lackluster “road trip”.