Late Review: Year One

Oh, Michael Cera! Dear, sweet Michael Cera. What have you gotten yourself into now? Our Robert Wilonsky went to see the new Old Testament comedy (which opens Fri., June 19 at the Metro and other theaters), and here's his report:

Unbearably painful from shrugging start to outtakes-laden finish (always a sign of desperation), Harold Ramis' half-assed, hare-brained return to writing and directing makes Mel Brooks' equally muddled, soporific History of the World, Part 1 look downright majestic by comparison, and comparisons are inevitable. Sixteen long years after Groundhog Day, perhaps the greatest American comedy of the 1990s, this is instead the Harold Ramis responsible for Club Paradise and the unnecessary Bedazzled redo - the unfocused and unhinged sketch comedian for whom no laugh's too cheap, as evidenced by scenes involving the eating of shit, a barrage of farts, the tossing of testicles, and the streaming of urine all over Michael Cera's face. Released under the Judd Apatow banner, Year One is a hollow, cynical exercise in juvenilia - this is clearly aimed at PG-13 pre-tweens for whom the word "fuck" alone is enough to elicit raucous giggles. And the cast of thousands looks like it'd rather be anywhere other than the desert, pretending to be biblical outcasts. Jack Black, as hunter Zed, has never worked so hard for so little. Cera, as gatherer Oh, can't even obscure his embarrassment behind the strands of a cheap and ill-fitting wig. Not one of the comedy all-stars Ramis enlisted for this abomination - among them Paul Rudd, whose cameo as Abel lasts all of 30 seconds and still runs too long; David Cross as bro-killin' Cain; Bill Hader, hidden behind black face; Hank Azaria as son-sacrificing Abraham - can wring a single laugh from a screenplay that pauses for a moment to contemplate the existence of God between squeezing out sharts. Year One serves as irrefutable proof that He does not exist. (PG-13, 140 minutes) ROBERT WILONSKY

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