Last night’s Century City screening of Harold Ramis‘s Year One was so empty and unfunny that I decided to catch a little shuteye. I’d been up since 2:30 am LA time and it wasn’t like I was missing anything. How could the director and cowriter of the inspired Groundhog Day, easily one of the most satisfyingly made and richly themed comedies of all time, have allowed himself to make something as lame and sloppy as this? The current 28% Rotten Tomatoes rating is no surprise. It’s brazenly awful.
Some are comparing Michael Cera and Jack Black‘s comic attitude and repartee to that of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, but the craft that went into the old black-and-white Abbott and Costello comedies of the ’40 sand ’50s puts a piece of shit like Year One to shame. I’m not referring to first-rate A&C films like Buck Privates and Hold That Ghost — I mean the second-tier genre-spoof stuff they started making in the late ’40s (Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, etc.). They were mostly mediocre but at least watchable for that old-studio rigor and professionalism, which is more than you can say for this turdblossom. The idea that professionals made it — guys who get paid millions to write and act funny — keeps failing to compute.
It’s almost as if Ramis and Black and Cera got together and said, “We need to make a movie that will take all three of us down and sully our reputations. We don’t want just a blemish — we want lifelong friends who’ve seen it to cross to the other side of Montana Ave. when they see us coming. Now, how do we do this?” In this sense, Year One is a success.