Title: Year One (2009)
Director: Harold Ramis (a.k.a. Egon from The Ghostbusters)
Well, Im a huge fan of Monty Pythons parody on religion and politics known as Life of Brian. To me, its one of the greatest anti-religion, anti-opressive goverment movies ever made. And up front I'll let you guys now that Year One used Life of Brian as its blue print, so keep that in mind. At times it even felt like a remake of it, because it had so many similarities. Year One felt like the "dumb" american version of Life of Brian. Even though this movie has gotten some negative buzz because it gets too silly, I get the impression that its just over zealots out there taat are afraid that this movies "you dont have to follow anyone, follow yourself" message gets out there. So they automatically bash it cause they cant have this kind of movie getting any kind of support. If you ask me, I thought the movie was quite fun.
But I will say this, not everyone will find this movie fun. This movie is made for those who know a little thing or two about the bibles fairytales, um, I mean parables. Those of you who dont know Abraham of the bible from Abraham Van Helsing just wont get the jokes in this film. Cause you see what this movie does so well, same as Life of Brian and Mel Brooks History of the World did before it, is take the bible stories and put them in a funny context. Make fun of their often times ludicrous and ridiculous angles. And make you think about the plausibility of these bible stories.
The films basic premise is Jack Black and Michael Cera are two cave men trying to survive in their tribe. They both try to make it in the tribe as hunters, but just dont seem to make the cut. Since they arent good enough hunters or gatherers, they dont attract any females, so they are constantly being turned down by the girls in the tribe. One day, Jack Black gets kicked out for screwing things up and Cera decides to follow him into the wild to "start their own tribe" as they put it. Unfortunately, they arent ready for the wild and crazy world waiting for them out there. Soon they encounters other slightly more advanced civilizations. Unfortunately, these new civilizations are slaves to religion and its traps, mainly, human sacrafices and worshipping deities whos existense cant be proven. Will they escape the trappings of religion? Will they liberate the people from it?
So in the midst of all the joking around, theres some criticizing of the bible tales, theres some pointing out of a couple of the things in the bible that just seem wrong. For example Abraham killing his son cause "god told him to" or the ridiculous story of the "tree of knowledge". All pointed out just to make you think is it right for the bible to say that its okay to kill your son because "god told you to?" Or just what is the tree of knowledge? You bite a fruit that lets you know what is right and wrong in the world? How does that pass for truth and good to some people goes beyond me, but such is the nature of faith. I loved how Jack Blacks characters starts asking just what it is about this tree that makes it so "forbidden?" The symbolism of course being that what is forbidden of the tree of knowledge is the actual knowledge. Knowing too much isnt what the people in power (read: the ones that invented religion) want the general population to have. Hence: the tree of knowledge is "forbidden".
From their on in, Jack Black character is on a quest for his purpose in life. He starts philosophizing and questioning everything. In this sense, in this film we get a person who suddenly wakes up to life and says "why is everything the way it is?" and starts to question everything in his path. So basically, this movie is a film made for that kind of person, the questioning philosophers. The ones who always ask "WHY?" and "HOW?" And "SAYS WHO?!" So this was the big attraction for me with this movie. But Im also excited and curious as to what a religious person will think of this kind of film, of course they'll curse it and ask you to boycott it and what not. Interestingly enough, the film doesnt attack the idea of God or an all powerful creator behind it all, it only attacks the idea of religion as something that humanity should learn to let go of, which Im all for of course, on a personal note, religion is a dinasour from the dark ages that needs to be eliminated. On with my review.
Is the film silly? Sure, its a comedy, why should'nt it be? It stars Jack Black. He eats shit in the movie. They make all sort racy jokes. But then again, a movie like this HAS to be silly. Its the only way that a message like this one can be thrown onto the masses without them realizing it. People are going to be expecting a regular run of the mill silly summer comedy and what theyll get is a film that might make em think about a thing or two, or get them incredibly pissed off. This is a movie that asks the question "maybe we dont need religion?" and strongly asserts "maybe we can be the rulers of our own destiny!". You guys should have heard the silence in the movie theater when Michael Cera's character says "maybe God doesnt exist" It was as if a quiet bomb had suddenly fallen in the theater. But its not really what the movie is saying. The movie is more about showing how silly religion really is, and about how we dont need to follow anybody but our own selves. You know, same as that scene in Life of Brian where Brian says to all his blind followers "You need to figure it out for yourselves!". Thats essentially the crux of this film.
And this is probably why this movie wont make all that cash. But who knows, maybe people are getting wiser, and waking up from the matrix. Maybe they might give the ideas 'hidden' within the jokes a chance. Hell, they burn the religious leader in this film and suddenly everything is okay! Thats saying something! A gutsy movie that many will shun simply because of its subject matter. It isnt a masterpiece of Jack Blacks funniest movie, but its a movie with some guts, and a worthwhile message so I give it kudos just for that.
Rating: 3 out of 5