Director Harold Ramis may be one of the unsung heroes of great comedy films. Having written "STRIPES," "CADDYSHACK," and more, and having directed "CADDYSHACK," and "VACATION" alone, should go along way in differentiating his vast talent from the vast number of humdrum director/writers somehow making a ridiculously fine living while creating crap. His latest, "YEAR ONE," actually veers close to being crap, at times during its 2nd half, and especially during its last twenty minutes. However, its first 40 minutes is often brilliant, with consistently side-splitting humor! Jack Black and Michael Cera star as Zed and Oh, two friends who've been considered bad luck and ultimately outcast from the primitive tribe which they belong to. About as historically accurate as "Mel Brooks' History of the World Part 1," these major deviations from fact don't matter, as the script for ""YEAR ONE" is less concerned with character development than satire. Jokes built around the notions of what hunter/gatherer roles were, along with gross out situations(having to urinate while upside down,etc.) and more, will bring about as many loud laughs as sighs from the audience. Ramis shows a lot of restraint here, allowing for the script and the cast to run hog-wild, making for some of the best and worst scenes in the film. David Cross is hilarious and Olivia Wilde is beautiful, but somewhere between these two characters and in the 2nd half, is where "YEAR ONE" strays off its laugh-inducing path, trying too hard to connect loose segments of a story, that serve no real purpose. In fact, the romantic notions of the two lead characters only hinder the film's pacing and bawdy atmosphere, making it hard to discern why there was any focus, even the flimsy ones given, on a love story.
While "YEAR ONE" can't stand proudly next to "CADDYSHACK" and the other great films of Ramis, at least 45 minutes of it is far superior to most comedies released in the past year, and much more fun, even with its flaws.
SONY has provided both the theatrical and unrated edition of "YEAR ONE" for this release. The correct 1.78:1 aspect ratio is intact for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray. It's a sensational image! Colors are vibrant, and although fleshtones can be unnatural on a few occasions, the vast majority of scenes look flawless, providing the kind of "jump-off-the-screen" depth one hopes for with the blu-ray format! Detail is as impressive as we've ever found with the format! Contrast is consistently solid, and, even without inky blacks, the image retains fine depth in darker scenes.
SONY has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. As with most comedy fare, this mix is front focused with heavy emphasis on the center channel. Still, occasional ambient and low bass effects are impressive. Surrounds are fun, when utilized, but these occasions are rare. Dialogue is perfectly rendered with impressive dynamic range of the lossy mix. It's a good mix, but nothing here to boast about.
SONY has provided a variety of extras, including: a great commentary with Ramis, Black and Cera. There are so many commentaries available out there, but few are worthwhile. This is the exception! Ramis provides some great laughs, and the interaction between these three, makes for really fun moments. It's a great commentary! "THE YEAR ONE CUTTING ROOM" offers viewers the opportunity to create and edit a variety of scenes, by choosing options for various music, titles and more. The options aren't endless, but this interactive feature is kind of fun. A behind-the-scenes feature, "YEAR ONE: THE JOURNEY BEGINS," allows for plenty of behind-the-scenes moments, in 1080p! A funny tv commercial with "Sodom" as its focus, is short but funny. Additionally deleted scenes, an alternate ending and extended/alternate scenes, are offered in full 1080p. While some of these are bland, some are hilarious and they're well worth checking out!