EXPECTATIONS: Last week, Ronnie Dwyer challenged me to a duel in Thunderhut. It's a lot like the legendary Thunderdome, except all we have is a little thatched-roof hut. It's small, but it works. The prize? Ronnie's treasured copy of Iron Man 3. He's wanted a shot at pounding my guts out for years, and he knew I couldn't resist the bait of a one-of-a-kind film like that. Needless to say, I won the match, my life (sorry Ronnie), and his precious movie.
REALITY: That bastard! I step out of Thunderhut with my prize, reveling in my triumph over Douchebag Dwyer, and what do I find? It's not Iron Man 3. It's some thing called Year One. I didn't knock Ronnie into last month just to have the old bait-and-switch pulled on me. Oh well, I wouldn't be the world's last film critic if I refused to watch a movie.
Timeless hilarity!I was kinda hoping that with a title like Year One, I might get some kind of dramatization of pre-everything America. For some reason, there are no records of US history dating back any further than the 1700s. It's weird, and it would've been great if this movie actually had something to teach. Not so, as it turns out. When they say "Year One", they don't so much mean "back in the good old days" as they mean "back 20 years ago." Judging from the representation of the past in this film, the actual Year One looked an awful lot like my teenage years. Straw everywhere, burning people alive for no good reason, aimless wandering, and a whole lot of poop jokes.
The film follows two retarded, time-traveling cavemen named Durr (Jack Black) and Huh? (Michael Cera), who are entirely oblivious to the fact that they're waltzing through history at amazing speeds. After being banished from the jungle for eating a golden apple, Durr and Huh? meet two brothers who hate each other, ride in a cart, stop a man from killing his son on an altar and then stumble across Sodomy-town, where they inevitably take the place over by accident.
It all vaguely sounds like stuff that happened in the Bible, only instead of taking place in some kind of workable chronology, they apparently decided it'd be cooler if the entire Bible took place at the exact same time. The result is that they accidentally created the greatest fish-out-of-water story ever told. I'm not even kidding here.
Imagine you're a caveman. For us here in the Laird Compound, that's not all that difficult. Aside from having real clothes and DVD players, it's basically the same. So imagine you're a caveman. One day, a fellow cave-dude shoves you out of the forest and into the real world, where the first person you meet is wearing chain mail and reading Shakespeare's First Folio on an iPad. That's what it's like when Durr and Huh? first encounter Cain and Abel, but instead of having their minds blown, our heroes take it all in their collective stride.
There's absolutely nothing funny about apples, especially since they became sentient and overtook Europe.Sure, they marvel at things like the wheel or bread, but a future person with woven threads who doesn't look like a mud monster? That's totally normal. It hit me alarmingly close to home. Having been attacked by a mud monster not too long ago myself, I realize that I've taken clean clothes and general civility for granted. Year One helped me keep that in mind, and for that I can say that this movie isn't all that terrible. I've learned the value of modernity, and I refuse to let Camp Laird fall into the anarchy and chaos found in the film's depiction of Sodomy-town.
What's more, the historical accuracy goes a step beyond simply depicting a realistic version of 1 C.E. As stated earlier, it's an amazingly faithful re-creation of the United States circa 2070. I don't know how he did it, but director Harold Ramis captured the voice of my youth almost flawlessly. My friends and I used to talk exactly the way Durr and Huh? do. Hell, Michael Cera is the spitting image of Ronnie Dwyer. It's almost as though Ramis found a way to travel to the future and steal Ronnie away for a week or two...
I recommend Year One to anyone looking for a realistic window into biblical times (all of them, and all at once!), or for a trip down memory lane. For now, though, it looks like my search for Iron Man 3 will have to continue.
MINORITY REPORT: This Thunderhut sounds very similar to a location I frequent. It is situated in a top-secret back alley where I and various others like myself fight barehanded to the death for meat, booze and other valuables. Many have fall to the hands of old Monty Smythe, but the stakes have never been so high as a cinematographic videotape; I think for such a prize, the streets would have run red with blood. -Montague "Legally Sane" Smythe
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Something Awful reviews the latest films in a straightforward (for SA) manner.