20 years ago, this would have been the funniest movie ever made.
Unfortunately, it's 2009, and an awkward Michael Cera and a crazy eyebrowed Jack Black are not enough to keep this movie's humor from being very, very outdated.
This movie was written and directed by Harold Ramis, a comedy legend behind some of the all time greats like Ghostbusters and Caddyshack. As a result of Ramis' success in his 80's comedies, the exact same feel is all over the place in Year One. It's a pretty simple movie, so get ready for a pretty simple review.
What I liked:
The acting on almost everyone's part. Cera is by far the best. Yes, he's the same role as he usually plays, but at least it's funny, doubly so because this is a prehistoric romp. David Cross is also a major character, and he is great... but then again, when is David Cross not great? There's some great cameos by Bill Hader, Matt Besser, Paul Rudd, Hank Azaria, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and even Ramis himself. Surprisingly enough, Jack Black is not the best in the movie. Like Tropic Thunder, he plays a character that's not too interesting, and he makes it a bit better with his style.
I do think Ramis did a good job with the direction. He shot it like a Ben-Hur style epic, and that definitely served the content well. I also think the movie succeeded stylistically. When it wanted to be biblical, it was biblical. When it wanted 2009 slang, it had it. Very nice.
What I didn't like:
For a movie with almost double the budget of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story it sure didn't seem like it. Walk Hard seemed like the cinematography and production design were totally top notch, and this absolutely did not. If this looked a little more like the color schemes and set designs in something like 10,000 BC I would have enjoyed it much more.
Also, the movie's humor didn't really work for me. It's hard to say this however, because I do enjoy this type of humor. It's that 80's style of Monty Python/Mel Brooks cornball lines. They are great and funny, but in a 2009 release, it just seems a little off.
So there you have it. An all around mediocre movie. The absolutely hilarious lines are cancelled out by dumb and tasteless jokes, leaving you wanting just a couple more scenes written by a comedy legend from, let's say, today. If they make a Year Two hopefully it will be written by that person.