Tuesday, June 23, 2009

YEAR ONE

Last week, my buddy Fletch predicted that I would proclaim Year One to be a "seminal work". Well, as much as I'd love to prove my man to be a genius predictor, that just ain't gonna happen. The comedic proposal offered up in this Jack Black/Michael Cera reluctant cave-buddy movie isn't a terrible one: that even since the beginning of time, a man's ambitions and actions have been led along by the tips of their penises. Now, that's not a new social theory, and it can probably explain why Guy Ritchie did a remake of Swept Away, but it makes for an interesting stepping off point for some low-brow humor (literally). After all, when else should society forgive a group of males for acting like a bunch of Neanderthals???

Like most comedies without a weighty script (ie, a script written by three people), Year One must rely on a cavalcade of cameos to carry it through. Don't get me wrong, Michael Cera is quite fine and even gets in some of the film's most memorable ad libs (while pondering why one of the female "gatherers" seems to fancy only "hunters", he concludes, "she's must be a self-loathing gatherer"), but when you're leaning on Xander Berkely, Oliver Platt, and the untalented member of Tenacious D to get you through dry patches, you're just in a bad spot. Even the typically sure thing scene-stealers of David Cross and Paul Rudd are a bore here, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse really needs to let go of the McLovin thing already.

Fans of the Old Testament may get some kicks from the second half of the film where Zed (Black) and Oh (Cera) make their way to Sodom and Gomorrah after escaping a circumcision ritual at the hands of Isaac (Hank Azaria), and deep down sicko perverts - like me - shall be shocked to see the film makers get away with a rimming and fisting joke that surely must have gone over the heads of censors who ended up granting Year One that crucial PG-13 rating. And yes, because head screenwriter Harold Ramis is an old man, his attempts at new school crude humor come off as desperate and/or clueless. Meaning, his sodomy jokes and homo barbs are tired and more juvenile than even his Animal House beginnings.

While watching Year One unravel, I couldn't help but think back to that scene in Knocked-Up where Seth Rogen has some "advice coffee" with his movie dad Harold Ramis. I'm sure the comedy veteran is honored that a younger generation holds him in such high regard, but why does he then feel the need to pander to their crowd with an attempt at their humor? It's like seeing Morgan Freeman with an earring or Robert Redford at a Kings of Leon concert. Let's get back to that Paul Newman-school of aging gracefully fellas, ok? I mean, is it far-reaching to wonder whether Mr. Carradine passed away from his risky sexscapades because he couldn't accept the fact that he had a 73 year old body?? It's true, these examples fall in line with the premise of modern man still being led around by the tips of their penises, but I'd bet that even their caveman ancestors knew when it was time to let the younger dudes do most of the clubbing.

9 comments:

Tommy Salami said...

Thanks for saving me $21

Now remember, this guy is making Ghostbusters 3.

Fox said...

$21?!? Were you planning on seeing it three times Tommy, or are ticket prices in your town just through the roof?

As for GB3, Ramis recently said this:

"I know all the guys want to come back except for [Rick] Moranis, who's disappeared. Not disappeared physically. But he's not too interested in entertainment at this time"....

Yeah, uh, and neither are you dude...

Plus, Bob Balaban can fill in for Moranis and nobody will even tell the difference

Greg said...

Fans of the Old Testament...

Are there Old Testament Fan Clubs? Can I join if I like DeMille's The Ten Commandments?

BTW, I don't get the Carradine line at all. People pleasure themselves in many different ways and it has nothing to do with the age of their body. People don't say, "Well, I would stroke myself this way, but now that I'm 73 and can't accept that, I will do it this way." Now maybe DC's John Thomas wasn't working right and needed a chord but for most folks, Mr. Penis works fine right on into the eighties. I think he just liked the feel of it.

And thanks for saving me 37 dollars. Oh wait, for a second I thought I lived next to Tommy.

Fox said...

Greg-

Nice "John Thomas". That's a new one for me.

The Carradine line probably doesn't make sense, but my thinking was that if his body was younger, maybe it would have sustained the kinky (violent?) sex he was engaging in.

And then, also, dude, you're 73, haven't you had your thrills already? How about reading a book and maybe rubbing one out before bedtime instead of using some deadly black magic voodoo orgasm-getter accessory? He could put in Videodrome and jack-off, for instance.

Ahh... to each his own, of course, I just find it a little peculiar. Maybe I won't when I'm older. But I DO still hope my John Thomas works!

bill r. said...

It's interesting that the comments sections of a review where you criticize Ramis for pandering to young folks has turned into series of jokes about jerking off. Oh, I know, it's just because we're all younger than Harold Ramis, so we're still in the clear.

But really. I haven't seen the movie (though I must say that the trailers made me laugh), and it may stink, but Ramis being old-ish shouldn't really have anything to do with any of this. The only thing that matters is whether or not the movie made you laugh, which I guess it didn't. Oh well. Thanks for saving me 63 dollars.

Rick Olson said...

It's interesting that the comments sections of a review where you criticize Ramis for pandering to young folks has turned into series of jokes about jerking off. ...

Yes. It shows how much more sophisticated the younger comic sensibility is than old farts like Ramis and Moranis and crew. I'm glad I got this demonstration.

And "homo-barbs." Yes. So mature. I'm kinda glad Ramis doesn't know how to do this humor.

Fox said...

It's not just that Ramis panders to young folks - that is fine - it's that he sucks at it (ie like Morgan Freeman trying to look like their 36 years old still) with Year One.

You guys get me wrong. Jack-off jokes and gay jokes are funny... they just have to be good!

Fletch said...

I don't want to disagree just for the sake of disagreeing, but isn't it safe to say that had Ramis played it safer, so to speak, wouldn't we (ok, you) be dogging him for not keeping up with the times? Seems like a damned if you do, damned if you don't type of scenario.

Either way, thanks for a) proving me wrong (you're nothing if not predictable ;) ), and b) saving me $4.71.

Fox said...

Fletch-

If Year One would have been predominantly poor for another reason, I surely would have criticized him for something, but I doubt it would be for "not keeping up with the times". That doesn't carry anything.

I like the Judd Apatow humor, and I think that crew - when they do it well - does it well. Instead of doing his own thing I think Ramis wanted to be like them, but he isn't, so he wasn't.

But what do they care anyways? I'm sure they were just hanging out having a good time on set the whole time and every once in awhile remembered, "oh yeah, we're supposed to be making a movie or something."