Year One (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 15, 2009 by  

“A film partnering funnymen Jack Black, Michael Cera and writer/director Harold Ramis.  Overall, fans of the film will definitely enjoy the number of special features packed in this Blu-ray release and you do get both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film.  This is probably one of the few films where I felt that the alternate ending should have been used instead of what was used in the final cut of the film.  Overall, not as strong as other Apatow produced films but for those who enjoy that style of comedy, will find ‘Year One’ to be humorous, crazy and moronic.”

Images courtesy of © 2009 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Year One

DURATION: Theatrical Version – 97 Minutes/Unrated Version – 100 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SHD, French, Spanish, Portuguese

COMPANY:  Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13: Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13

Release Date: October 6, 2009

Directed by Harold Ramis

Based on a story by Harold Ramis

Written by Harold Ramis, Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg

Executive Producer: Rodney Rothman

Producer: Judd Apatow

Co-Producer: Harold Ramis and Laurel Ward

Associate Producer: Andrew Epstein

Music by Theodore Shapiro

Cinematography by Alar Kivilo

Edited by Craig Herring, Steve Welch

Casting by Tara Duncil, Chris Gray, Jeanne McCarthy

Production Design by Jefferson Sage

Art Direction by Richard Fojo

Set Decoration by Dorree Cooper

Costume Design by Debra McGuire


Jack Black as Zed

Michael Cera as Oh

Oliver Platt as High Priest

David Cross as Cain

Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Isaac

Vinnie Jones as Sargon

Hank Azaria as Abraham

Juno Temple as Eema

Olivia Wilde as Princess Inanna

June Diane Raphael as Maya

Xander Berkeley as King

Gia Carides as Queen

Horatio Sanz as Enmebaragesi

David Pasquesi as Prime Minister

Matthew Willig as Marlak

Harold Ramis as Adam

Rhoda Griffis as Eve

Gabriel Sunday as Seth

Eden Riegel as Lilith

Kyle Gass as Zaftig the Eunuch

Bill Hader as Shaman

History was made…by these guys? Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) are cavemen who stumble out of the mountains into an epic journey of biblical proportions. One’s a bumbling hunter, the other’s a gentle gatherer; together, they become unlikely participants in history’s most pivotal moments. Directed and co-written by comedy legend Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, Analyze This), YEAR ONE is rude, crude, wildly absurd, deliciously tasteless and laugh-out-loud funny!

In June 2009, a new comedy film starring Jack Black (“King Kong”, “Be Kind Rewind”, “Tropic Thunder”) and Michael Cera (“Juno”, “Superbad”, “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist”) was released in theaters with a large tie-in with the NBA Finals and also featured a commercial aired on Super Bowl XLIII.

The film which was directed and and a screenplay co-written by Harold Ramis (“Ghostbusters”, “Groundhog Day”, “Stripes”, “Caddyshack”, “Meatballs”) and “The Office” writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg.  The film would be produced by Judd Apatow (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “Pineapple Express”, “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, “Knocked Up”), cinematography by Alar Kivilo (“The Lake House”, “The Lookout”, “The Ice Harvest”) and music by Theodore Shapiro (“Marley & Me”, “Tropic Thunder”, “Semi-Pro”).

The film revolves around two men who come from a village (a village of cavemen/women) and Zed (Jack Black) is known as the worst hunter/gatherer in the village.  He finds out that Maya (June Diane Raphael) wants to get married and the man that wants to marry her is Marlak (Matthew Willig), the strongest hunter in the village.   Although self-confident, Zed believes he can be better than Marlak even though his only true friend in the village, Oh (Michael Cera) thinks he’s full of BS.

As for Oh, he is a shy man not confident for himself.  Not a great gatherer, he has interest in Eema (Juno Temple) despite not knowing how to communicate with girls and thus giving off a gay vibe.

But when Zed takes a bite out of the forbidden fruit (from the apple tree – which Eve ate an apple from), Zed feels that the glowing fruit may have given him magical powers.   But unfortunately, because he at the fruit, against his village’s rules, he is banished.  In the process of leaving the village, Zed accidentally burns his village and thus forces Oh to join with him (and essentially and unknowingly making his village homeless and slaves to a slave owner).

While Zed and Oh, go beyond their village (which they were taught that anything beyond the mountain is the end of the Earth), they end up in the farm area where they see two men fighting.  Cain (David Cross, “Arrested Development”) and Abel (Paul Rudd, “I Love, You Man”, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) in which the two see Cain murdering his brother.  With Cain’s father Adam (Harold Ramis) wanting Cain punished for murdering his brother, Cain takes Zed and Oh to the city where they learn that their village members are slaves and are being taken to the city of Sodom.

Now Zed and Oh must come up with a plan to rescue their beloved women and the village.

“Year One” is literally a parody of stories from the Bible and also stars Xander Berkeley (“Fracture”, “24”) as the King of Sodom, Olivia Wilde (“The O.C.”, “House M.D.”, “The Black Donnellys”) as the princess of Sodom, Oliver Platt (“Frost/Nixon”, “Nip/Tuck”, “The West Wing”) as The High Priest, Vinnie Jones (“X-Men 3: The Last Stand”, “Loaded”) as the Sodom warrior Sargon and Hank Azaria (“The Simpsons”, “Huff”, “Mad About You”) as Abraham.

The Blu-ray release includes both the standard theatrical version and the unrated version of the film which has three more minutes of extra footage.


“Year One” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1) and the quality provides excellent detail.  From the detail of the sand in the desert, mountains in the region, trees in the village, detail on the clothing, you name it… the picture quality for “Year One” is solid, not reference but still a very good looking film.  Good trace of grain and no DNR (Digital Noise Reduction).

As for the audio, the audio is presented with an English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack with a Spanish 5.1 soundtrack as well.  The Blu-ray features one of the few films that were released from Sony that uses a DTS-HD MA soundtrack instead of Dolby TrueHD.   For a comedy film, audio is satisfactory.  Dialogue is clean and understandable.  For the most part, the film is front and center channel driven but the crack of thunder can be heard quite nicely throughout the channels.  But it’s too bad the alternate ending was not used because that is where the majority of the action is featured in the film.  But overall, the lossless audio is fine.

Subtitles are featured in English, French, English SDH, Portuguese and Spanish.


“Year One” comes with the following special features (all presented in High Definition, in English stereo and Spanish and Portuguese subtitles):

  • Cinechat – With BD-Live, viewers can chat and watch the film at the same time.
  • MovieIQ – Viewers can watch the film via BD-Live and get up-to-date details on the characters, behind-the-scene factoids, music and more.
  • The Year One Cutting Room – With this technology, viewers can choose certain clips and make their own clips with selected music and effects and then share it with friends via BD-Live.
  • Audio Commentary with Harold Ramis, Jack Black and Michael Cera – A hilarious and fun commentary by Ramis and the two talent.
  • Alternate Ending – Sodom Destruction – (8:12) Featuring optional commentary by Director Harold Ramis and actors Jack Black and Michael Cera – A more big-budget ending featuring destruction (and humor) and the ending that should have been.  This ending was much, much better than the ending that ended up in the final cut.
  • Deleted Scenes: Two deleted scenes for Zed & Marlak (2:52) and Splooge (1:10)
  • Extended and Alternate Scenes – Ten extended and alternate scenes which include: The World is a Stone, Shaman, Zed’s Speech, Cougar, Zed & Oh Camp, Dust, Lost in the Desert, Stuff to Learn, Zed’s Plan and Bull’s Head
  • Line-O-Rama – (5:08) Featuring the many improvisational takes for certain scenes.
  • Gag Reel (8:28) – Year One bloopers
  • Year One: The Journey Begins – (17:52) A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.  Talent working with each other, costume and set design.  Interviews with crew and cast and more.
  • Sodom’s Got ‘Em – (1:50) Infomercial for why people should come to the city of Sodom.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: The Gates of Sodom – (2:08) A segment/joke based on Leeroy Jenkins (for the “World of Warcraft” fans).
  • Year One Trailer – (2:17) The original theatrical trailer
  • Previews – Upcoming Sony Home Pictures Entertainment trailers

“Year One” is one of those films that Apatow or even Happy Madison film fans will enjoy.  In other words, films that are comedy-driven, not meant to be taken seriously and for the most part, films that many people tend to see as moronic, idiotic and pushing the button.

For “Year One”, I will say that for an Apatow-produced film, it was not one of the best films and truthfully, I was surprised this was written by Harold Ramis because it is definitely one of his weakest written films to date.  The funny has its humorous moments and as expected, both Black and Cera are a good pairing.  It’s just that the screenplay felt a bit mediocre.

The biggest surprise when watching this Blu-ray is that included is an alternate ending that features more action and although a bit more dark, it was a pretty good ending that of course, people who knows the tragic story of Sodom will understand why the alternate ending was appropriate.  The fact that they spent so much for that ending scene and didn’t use it, is quite a surprise and sure, it was bleaker and humorous but I think those action sequences of destruction would have been more entertaining for viewers.   I just felt that the ending Ramis did choose keep, was to saccharine and to easy going.  In the commentary, Ramis said he chose the Obama versus the George W. Bush version.   But personally, for those familiar with the Sodom and Gomorah storyline expect nothing but destruction of the city of Sodom in someway.

But overall, for those who did enjoy this film will enjoy the fact that the Blu-ray does come with a lot of special features and that the picture quality is pretty solid.   And again, you get both the unrated and theatrical version of the films.  If anything, despite the film’s shortcomings, the Blu-ray release for this film is packed with features, Sony really utilizing some of the BD-Live capabilities for this release.  So, if you did enjoy this film, you’ll more than likely enjoy this Blu-ray release.

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