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Harold Ramis's THE YEAR ONE Screens!

Beaks here... In a perfect world, we'd be referring to THE YEAR ONE as Harold Ramis's "highly anticipated follow-up to 2005's surprise box office hit, THE ICE HARVEST." Instead, it's just another Judd Apatow-produced all-star flick directed by a great filmmaker in dire need of a hit. Injustice. (Seriously, throw THE ICE HARVEST on your Netflix queue if you've never seen it.) I read (and wrote about) the Ramis/Lee Eisenberg/Gene Stupnitsky script last December (they teamed for some episodes of THE OFFICE), and, despite some structural flaws, thought it was pretty damn funny. Skimming through the below write-up from "The Free Screening Whore", it sounds like the trio tweaked the material a little (e.g. Cain was the "twiddly thumb guy"). Still, the basic concept is the same: it's a comedic conflation of the Old Testament starring Jack Black and Michael Cera as a pair of cavemen wandering through history. There are some spoilers, so tread carefully if you want to be virginal when this film opens next fucking June.
I just got back from a pre-screening of the new Apatow-produced Harold Ramis film "The Year One." (Or "Year One", which all of the paperwork said, but the rough opening titles definitely had "The") I saw the flick but wasn't chosen for the discussion afterwards, so I'm sending you my thoughts. They said we were the first audience to see it, but who knows; maybe they were lying to get us pumped. I'll sum up my opinion quickly for those not wanting to read the rest: very funny. For those that desire a bit more detail, here we go. As you may know, the movie stars Jack Black and Michael Cera as early tribesmen. They are banished from their (secluded?) tribe and travel around ancient earth running into zany characters that allow for a mother load of cameo appearances. The movie opens on Jack Black's character Zed, with his would-be lady Maya, played by June Raphael, walking through the forest where they come upon the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. She asks him to take a bite, and he does so that she will "lay with him." The apple seems to have an awakening effect on Zed, who begins to question the nature of life and believe himself to be chosen by God as the film progresses. I'm not a history aficionado, but I'm pretty sure there's a lot of time-compression going on to allow a lot of these elements/characters to co-exist. For the sake of the comedy, I forgive them to a point. We get to see our heroes encounter hilarious characters such as Cain and Able (David Cross and Paul Rudd, respectively). They get into a slow-speed wagon chase with Adam (Harold Ramis). Zed is so amazed by the wheel on the wagon that he comments, "Wow, that's the greatest idea since the vagina." They then travel to the city of Sodom and meet circumcision-crazy Abraham (Hank Azaria) along the way, whose son (McLovin) joins them on their trip. All the movie's shenanigans are truly hilarious. With Black and Cera's initial interactions as the slacker tribesmen, the film opens strong. In fact, the entire opening sequence with the tribe is exceedingly funny. Genius funny man Bill Hader plays the Shaman, who has one brief but memorable exchange with Black's Zed. A lot of the people I saw the flick with agreed that when the group gets to Sodom, the laughs slow down a bit, but are sure to pick right back up. The King's hilariously homosexual High Priest is played by Oliver Platt. He is creepy in the way that makes you laugh until you can't breathe. Especially when he takes a liking to young Oh (Michael Cera's character) and forces him to rub oil on his exposed forest of a chest. 'Nuff said. I really only have one issue with the film: the universe in which the comedy takes place is a bit sloppily introduced; leading to our main characters developing beyond what you'd imagine for a comedy of this outrageous style. Zed's hilarious ruminations in the Room of the Holiest of Holies teeter on the edge of legitimacy. The movie is, in my opinion, unable to support these ideas, and collapses in a finale that is both unsatisfying and a bit confusing. For example, there is this character who twiddles his fingers a lot who wishes to steal the King's throne. He's so poorly executed as a character that not only can I not remember his name (OR find him on IMDB), but I failed to understand at all what happened with his character at the end. Also, Zed's final climactic choice to reject his developing status as a messiah was weakly set-up, and the payoff fell flat. In fact, there are so many changes of power between the characters at the end, I can't quite remember who ends up where. Somehow Oh ends up being a general (?), and the King is killed and I think that poorly set-up twiddly-finger guy is made King. Weren't we supposed to hate him? Or since we sort of hated the king for sacrificing virgins, maybe we're supposed to like Twiddly? Speaking of the virgin sacrifices, it seems in order to heighten the tension, the main squeezes of both our main characters are captured early on and made to work in the palace. When it comes time for the King to sacrifice more virgins, they are brought to the mouth of the flaming bore's head! But wait … hadn't Zed's lady Maya "lain" with him many times before? Another character later seems to use the just-had-sex excuse to get out of it … why didn't she? Other than an ending that is unsatisfying and makes little sense to me, the movie's hilarious. It inspired me to think about the characters a bit too much, more than there is there to think about. I don't know how that can be reconciled, but maybe they can just re-film the end like they did for Anchorman. I'll be seeing it opening day for sure; just to hear them joke about a room called The Holiest of Holies. If you use this, call me The Free Screening Whore.
David Cross and Paul Rudd as Cain and Abel = ticket bought. See you in a year.

Readers Talkback
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  • July 9, 2008, 3:16 p.m. CST

    First!!

    by kevinwillis.net

    I like Harold Ramis.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:17 p.m. CST

    What's Not to Like?

    by mrbeaks

    He's Harold Ramis!

  • July 9, 2008, 3:19 p.m. CST

    Sure He Didn't Eat from the Tree of Life

    by kevinwillis.net

    It would seem immortality would be a prerequisite to be wandering through history. BTW, like this review. Talk about damning with faint praise.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:20 p.m. CST

    When did they finish shooting this?

    by Montag666

    Why so long of a wait?

  • July 9, 2008, 3:21 p.m. CST

    Loved Harold Ramis as Seth Rogen's Dad

    by kevinwillis.net

    In Knocked Up. Don't why, he just killed me. I just kept waiting for Seth to call him Egon.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:21 p.m. CST

    At first...

    by Jason B. Swaim

    It sounded a little like History of the World Part I. Meaning, a time compression of historical items. This actually sounds pretty good.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:23 p.m. CST

    BTW, Mr. Beaks: Great to Have You Back

    by kevinwillis.net

    I love Harry and Moriarty and Massawyrm, but you are one of the best writers here. Someone read Elements of Style. Who read Elements of Style? You did.<br><br>Seriously, you write some of the most readable articles here. Which is not a slam against the other guys, given that I tend to write a lot more like them.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:28 p.m. CST

    Sort of like..History of the World Vol. 1?

    by theredtoad

    That's the vibe I got from this review. Jack Black is having a good career boost in Kung Fu Panda and Tropic Thunder, IMO he was always funny sans Nacho Libre. Cera is comedy gold, and I can't wait to see him teamed up with McLovin again. I'm guessing Jonah shows up as well? What about Seth Rogan?

  • July 9, 2008, 3:29 p.m. CST

    Bad Wolf

    by deanamatronix

    Nobody put a gun to your head and forced you to watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall or any other movie for that matter. I suggest you put a little more time into investigating what you're paying money to watch and get over your sense of self importance. Judd Apatow's laughing all the way to the bank.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:30 p.m. CST

    Hope this puts Ramis on top again

    by SirLoin

    Cross and Rudd - I'm so there.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:31 p.m. CST

    Ice Harvest was NOT good

    by ShiftyEyedDog2

    I waned to like it, I really did. Great cast and al. But the film was very flawed and mostly just bored me.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:31 p.m. CST

    re: Sort of like..History of the World Vol. 1?

    by JDOSIRIS2

    I totally got that same idea. History of the World Part 1 is a comdey classic.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:36 p.m. CST

    I respect you Beaks...

    by JimBobCooter

    But "The Ice Harvest" was DISMAL. Painful. And not even in a black comedy way. I wanted to enjoy it SO MUCH. Am a huge Oliver Platt fan. And Cusack has been my idol since "Better Off Dead." <p> But whew! "The Ice Harvest" deserved to bomb!

  • July 9, 2008, 3:37 p.m. CST

    Love anything by Harold Ramis

    by mrfan

    Always comes through for me.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:39 p.m. CST

    PLANT

    by The InSneider

    Was there last night as well and was disappointed. Didn't feel like an Apatow Production. Can't see this thing being a hit, nor can I see it being saved in editing. Premise is just not that funny. And Beaks, The Ice Harvest sucked. What's with you lately?

  • July 9, 2008, 3:39 p.m. CST

    Bad_Wolf

    by TheMcflyFarm

    Forgetting Sarah Marshall was actually pretty damn good, and judging by your opinion of that and especially of Walk Hard, you officially have bad taste.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:40 p.m. CST

    Only good thing about Knocked Up...

    by mrfan

    was Harold Ramis. Should have been more of him in the movie.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:40 p.m. CST

    Ice Harvest was GOD AWFUL

    by TheSeeker7

    I was really looking forward to it, if nothing else based on its cast. Oh my god did this thing suck. I've rarely seen a movie over the last several years go so long without it even knowing what it wanted to be. It went back and forth between comedy, heavy drama, thriller -- you name it, tone constantly shifting back and forth. Oh yea, and BORING, too.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:47 p.m. CST

    Bad Wolf

    by deanamatronix

    I didn't say you cant enjoy or dislike a movie. Hell, that's why people have opinions. What you cant do is stamp your feet and demand your money back because you didn't like what you paid for. If you dislike a book, do you demand the author give you your money back? Write to Apatow's production company and demand reimburse you. Guarantee they tell you to fuck off.

  • July 9, 2008, 3:49 p.m. CST

    DD, I agree, except...

    by JimBobCooter

    I think "Superbad" was hilarious. <p> Can I just get fucked by Rutger Hauer?

  • July 9, 2008, 3:51 p.m. CST

    Is this a Wholly Moses remake?

    by TVguy4566

    Or at least it's prequel. Didn't Dudley Moore already do this playing the guy who was almost Moses and basically stumbles upon Biblical milestones just after Moses?

  • July 9, 2008, 3:55 p.m. CST

    Uh oh, the wolf is owed a meal?

    by BIG_BAD_WOLF_IN_CAPS

    I'm sure he'll be eating a dick tonight

  • July 9, 2008, 3:57 p.m. CST

    Wholly Moses...

    by JimBobCooter

    ... the Jewish "Life of Brian?"

  • July 9, 2008, 3:59 p.m. CST

    Hey Harold Ramis

    by skimn

    was good as the Jewish Businessman in Walk Hard also. But of course, any past member of SCTV gets a gold star in my book.

  • July 9, 2008, 4:02 p.m. CST

    I want a refund for every movie I've seen

    by BIG_BAD_WOLF_IN_CAPS

    because I've since watched them again on cable, and they're better at my house. <<holds out hand for refund>>

  • July 9, 2008, 4:02 p.m. CST

    And I haven't dialed that number...

    by JimBobCooter

    For fear that Rutger will trace my call and bust through my wall, "Blade Runner" style.

  • July 9, 2008, 4:04 p.m. CST

    Wasn't bad_wolf a character in

    by BIG_BAD_WOLF_IN_CAPS

    Lucky Number Slevin? btw, I want my money back for that too

  • July 9, 2008, 4:07 p.m. CST

    Wholly Moses was Not Nearly Life of Brian Quality

    by kevinwillis.net

    But it did have Laraine Newman, so that's something.

  • July 9, 2008, 4:08 p.m. CST

    Rutger Hauer Busting Through Blade Runner Style

    by kevinwillis.net

    I want more life, fucker!

  • July 9, 2008, 4:12 p.m. CST

    For Those Who Give a Shit: My ICE HARVEST Defense

    by mrbeaks

    http://www.collider.com/dvd/reviews/archive_detail.asp/aid/1917/tcid/3

  • July 9, 2008, 4:18 p.m. CST

    "The Ice Harvest" was fucking horrible.

    by Holeman

    Seriously, it went everywhere at once, assraping the Coen Brothers in a most half-assed fashion and then piddled out too early like a 45 year-old with a teenage cheerleader.

  • July 9, 2008, 4:22 p.m. CST

    Read the Ice Harvest book

    by Mgmax

    It's damn funny and as black as a Coen Bros. comedy, much moreso than the movie (which turned it into Groundhog Day, basically).

  • July 9, 2008, 4:26 p.m. CST

    Zed's Dead Baby...

    by BurtGummer

    Zed's Dead

  • July 9, 2008, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Ramis was obviously trying with The Ice Harvest

    by PumpyMcAss

    But it was noir for pussies nonetheless. Oliver Platt was fun and Billy Bob Thornton can be watchable in even the shittiest of shit, but the movie was okay at best. The superior Cusack Noir would be hands-down The Grifters. If you REALLY like noir, throw that on your queue.

  • July 9, 2008, 4:35 p.m. CST

    Apatow needs to jump off a cliff.

    by Cotton McKnight

    I am really starting to hate that guy. He is John Hughes without the talent.

  • July 9, 2008, 4:35 p.m. CST

    Why

    by Series7

    throw THE ICE HARVEST on your Netflix queue if you've never seen it. So I can be bored for an hour and 40 min? <P> Ohh looks like you already got your guard up.

  • July 9, 2008, 4:36 p.m. CST

    Liked the Book, Too, Mgmax

    by mrbeaks

    But I felt the film was it's own thing in a rather inventive way - kinda like Raimi's take on A SIMPLE PLAN.

  • July 9, 2008, 4:46 p.m. CST

    Ice Harvest Wasn't Bad

    by kevinwillis.net

    Wasn't great, but it certainly didn't suck. IMHO.

  • July 9, 2008, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Ice Harvest?

    by BIG_BAD_WOLF_IN_CAPS

    I had to check Netflix to refresh my memory, and sure enough: I had forgotten about it because it was such a lousy movie. And, A Simple Plan? Holy hell, I remember screening a print of that on a Thursday before it opened. Me and my buddy had to leave 30 minutes into it...

  • July 9, 2008, 4:50 p.m. CST

    I'm glab Judd stole your money. GLAD!

    by chipps

    he bought me a coke

  • July 9, 2008, 4:58 p.m. CST

    wow, ice harvest was a really bad movie

    by reckni

    I don't blame people for bad taste in film.

  • July 9, 2008, 5:06 p.m. CST

    Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit!

    by hyperboycomics

    That's some cool news!

  • July 9, 2008, 5:07 p.m. CST

    Re: Simple Plan

    by JimBobCooter

    That, on the other hand, is pure genius. You left 30 minutes into it?? You missed Gary Cole, my friend. And Billy Bob actually played sympathetic and not bitter and angry.

  • July 9, 2008, 5:13 p.m. CST

    Mr. Beaks...

    by slowgraffiti

    I agree with shiftyeyeddog2, the Ice Harvest was the worst kind of film. I had such great potential, but it became so tired. The whole "As Witchita Falls, so falls Witchita Falls" was so terribly lame. It so desperately tried to aim for a cult type audiance which it missed. I saw this in the theater in-between shifts of waiting tables and that is usually the best time to see a movie because I am just happy to be out of work for a little, but this time it made me upset that I didn't just sleep in the theater playing Aeon Flux.

  • July 9, 2008, 5:15 p.m. CST

    I forgot...

    by slowgraffiti

    Ice Harvest reminded me of a weaker version of the movies that followed Pulp Fiction in the early 90s ie 2 Days in the Valley and Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead. Not Cold Blooded though, Cold Blooded was the bomb.

  • July 9, 2008, 5:21 p.m. CST

    beaks is never wrong

    by welbrick

    'ice harvest' is pretty good.

  • July 9, 2008, 5:27 p.m. CST

    Sounds funny, I'll give it a chance

    by SpencerTrilby

    even if Harold Ramis grew increasingly unfunny the past few years.

  • July 9, 2008, 5:28 p.m. CST

    It's mother lode, not mother load

    by Iowa Snot Client

    Or is it...mother lede?

  • July 9, 2008, 5:30 p.m. CST

    Bad_Wolf

    by Massage...Bored

    Why do you keep going back for more Apatow if, as you claim, he keeps burning you so bad? Wouldn't someone with such obviously great taste as yourself shy away from having to sit through what is, in your estimation, torture? <p> That's just irrational and, quite frankly, dumb. <p> This leads me to believe you haven't seen anything past Knocked Up, didn't care that it was more a dramedy than the laugh riot 40 Year-Old Virgin, and grew sour because it probably went over your head. Now you just blindly bash Apatow productions because, gosh darnit, that's the just cool thing to do on these here interwebs as of late. <p> So either you are a dummy with a lot of disposable income that sees movies he hates in advance or you are a liar. Take your pick because this is how you look to the rest of us. <p> P.S. Anyone with a decent knowledge of American popular music history will appreciate Walk Hard.

  • July 9, 2008, 5:30 p.m. CST

    by chipps

    I am less sick of the pig fucking guy than the date a millionaire people. that is bullshit

  • July 9, 2008, 5:34 p.m. CST

    i bet

    by chipps

    it is the same as the dam you michael bay guy

  • July 9, 2008, 5:51 p.m. CST

    Bad_Wolf re: naked breakup

    by necgray

    I hate to inform you since you're apparently ignorant (shock!), but the movie was written by Jason Segel, who experienced the naked breakup. Learn the difference between Judd the writer, Judd the director, and Judd the producer. Or don't and just keep being an obnoxious fuckwit. Either way.

  • July 9, 2008, 6:19 p.m. CST

    simple plan

    by The InSneider

    is brilliant. i don't even know why we're talking about it in the same thread as year one and ice harvest.

  • July 9, 2008, 6:52 p.m. CST

    I'm an Apatow fan

    by mefrog

    And I'll defend him if I have to. I think he really need to relax with slapping his name on everything but aside from Dewey Cox (which had a few strong laughs but not consistent enough) and Drillbit Taylor, which I haven't seen and never will because (a) it looked like shit and (b) Owen Wilson's a hack I've liked pretty much everything with him around.<br> <br> I fucking loved Sarah Marshall. Saw an early screening of it with about a thousand people and it was a total blast

  • July 9, 2008, 6:55 p.m. CST

    Sounds like vintage Mel Brooks

    by Logan_1973

    cameos, cameos, cameos...

  • July 9, 2008, 7:10 p.m. CST

    "The greatest idea since the vagina."

    by The Guy Who Slept Through Everything.

    I think I've found my new catchphrase.

  • July 9, 2008, 7:41 p.m. CST

    "Wow, that's the greatest idea since the vagina."

    by christian66

    The height of Apatow-produced joke death.

  • But not quite as fast.

  • July 9, 2008, 9:11 p.m. CST

    And Ice Harvest was all right.

    by fiester

    No way was it terrible. Thornton is terrific as always. He's just damned funny. Bad Santa might be the most underrated comedy of the last ten years.

  • July 9, 2008, 9:20 p.m. CST

    Life of Brian meets History of the Workd pt 1?

    by ThrowMeTheIdol

    But not near as good as that sounds I bet. And not set in the Roman era apparently. Eh. Sounds okay but mostly a rental. That kind of film is very hard to pull off and nothing about the casting makes me think they will. <p> Also, the title is going to confuse people. Most people will probably assume from the title that it takes place 2007 years ago.

  • July 9, 2008, 9:21 p.m. CST

    World of course

    by ThrowMeTheIdol

    I should let the typo go I know.

  • July 9, 2008, 9:48 p.m. CST

    Wow, Simple Plan was great

    by Bricktops hammer

    Who up there didn't like it? Oh now I see, you left 30 minutes in. I love when people see less than half of a movie and declare it sucks. Fantastic performance by Billy Bob (nominated for Best Supporting) and even Bill Paxton managed to not get on my nerves as per usual. See the whole thing!!!

  • July 9, 2008, 10:04 p.m. CST

    Totally spaced on Life of Brian

    by TVguy4566

    I guess I went with Wholly Moses because I was thinking Old Testement. I surely hope this movie is closer to Life of Brian than Wholly Moses.

  • July 9, 2008, 11:37 p.m. CST

    Movie of Ice Harvest is okay

    by Mgmax

    It has its moments, Cusack, Platt and Thornton are all fun, but Ramis doesn't have a feel for the noir genre and honest to God, he really does turn it into Groundhog Day-- another guy who has to redeem himself to get out of the town he's trapped in on a holiday. Bizarre. The book is just a lot nastier-- great feel for the low-rent skankiness of the strip club scene in a place like Wichita-- and you can easily imagine the Coen Bros. movie it wanted to be.

  • July 9, 2008, 11:59 p.m. CST

    mr_sinister7381

    by Dr. Wordsmith

    reading comprehension 101

  • July 10, 2008, 1:05 a.m. CST

    I am NOT a plant

    by TheFreeScreeningWhore

    I just registered under and alternate email address, because my other user name is just my name ... and I want to be invited to more screenings :) To answer a question previously asked in this thread, no. Neither Jonah Hill nor Seth Rogan were in this. But didn't you hear me about the Bill Hader thing? This man is brilliant.

  • July 10, 2008, 1:49 a.m. CST

    Talladega Nights sucked.

    by BusDriverStu

    What's with people liking this movie? Say what you will but I enjoyed Walk Hard...needed to be cut down more, but better than Talladega.

  • July 10, 2008, 4:19 a.m. CST

    Bad_wolf, about that meal

    by smackfu

    How does Mendies sound?

  • July 10, 2008, 6:49 a.m. CST

    bad_wolf

    by Steve T

    i believe you got called obnoxious because of the way you express your views rather than the nature of them. You're totally entitled to dislike Forgetting Sarah Marshall if you want, and to avoid Apatow films in future. You're utterly within your rights to express that opinion. But have you considered just for a second, not being an arsey cunt about it? :-D

  • July 10, 2008, 7:20 a.m. CST

    I'll watch anything with Michael Cera

    by David Cloverfield

    And Jack Black still can make me laugh. (I would rather watch him in another Tenacious D movie. Two fatass rockers fighting the Devil... with their ROCK! That's good times in front of the DVD.)

  • July 10, 2008, 7:34 a.m. CST

    Zed

    by barry convex

    "I love to see them running. I love the moments of their deaths - when I am one with Zardoz."

  • July 10, 2008, 9:16 a.m. CST

    Thumbs down on the Ice Harvest.

    by Mostholy

    Nice try, but it didn't hang together. (http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/003302.html)

  • July 10, 2008, 9:48 a.m. CST

    bad wold

    by Steve T

    I was going for irony there, but as you like (see the juxtaposition of a very wordy polite preamble followed by the crude ending), I can change it to arsey humourless cunt if you like? ;-)

  • July 10, 2008, 11:33 a.m. CST

    Enough about The Ice Harvest

    by skimn

    Cusack, Billy Bob, Platt and the rest survived that. How about Multipicity? The movie that just about destroyed Michael Keaton's big screen career. Ramis tried to repeat the Groundhog Day magic and it fizzled terribly.<p>Don't get me wrong, as stated earlier, I love Ramis and his SCTV experience carries a lot of cred in my book, and I think he still has a hit or two left in him. But, if you want to hate a Ramis film, look at Multipicity.

  • July 10, 2008, 5:05 p.m. CST

    Do the cavemen come up against Batman?

    by Iowa Snot Client

    In Year One?