On paper, Year One possessed the talent both in front of and behind the camera to deliver a breakout comedy smash hit, but instead it wound up being roundly panned by critics and just about recouped the $60 million budget in theaters when it was released in the summer of 2009, while posting a big loss once marketing and promotional costs were factored in.
The high concept prehistoric caper follows Jack Black’s Zed and Michael Cera’s Oh, who get exiled from their village for eating forbidden fruit. During their journey, the duo encounter several biblical figures and get themselves into all sorts of mishaps and misadventures as they stumble from one destination to the next.
Looking at the names involved, it seemed more difficult for Year One to fail than it did for the movie to succeed. The pic was produced, directed and co-written by Harold Ramis, the Ghostbusters legend who also had a hand in comedy classics Caddyshack, Groundhog Day and Analyze This, and he developed the script alongside The Office‘s Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg.
Reliable hit factory The Apatow Company were also on board, while the cast was filled out by a raft of talented stars including Olivia Wilde, Paul Rudd, David Cross, Juno Temple, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Hank Azaria, Bill Hader and more. Somehow, though, Year One was very much less than the sum of its parts, with even the easiest gags failing to land, although Jack Black does give it his best shot in a typically committed and frenetically charismatic performance.
History has shown that poor reviews and worse box office business are no obstacle for a movie when it comes to the Netflix Top 10 most-watched list, though, and Year One will be hoping to find a new audience now that it’s on the platform.