In my campaign review for Year One (published almost seven years ago) I wrote:
But if you do look at the whole picture that’s been put together for the movie you get the same sense you do looking at a crowd scene in a movie like Gladiator: Only 25 percent of what you see are original elements and the rest is that same picture repeated over and over. Likewise this campaign seems to hit the same four or five notes across all elements. The shot of the guys riding the cart like it’s a roller coaster, Cain beating Abel to death with a rock, the stoning by the Roman crowd…they appear over and over again.
As I said before, I’m holding out hope that this is simply the creators of the marketing campaign picking out a handful of out-and-out “jokes” and reinforcing those time and time again, with the rest of the movie being a bit more subtle and funny. That might be in vein, but considering the talents of those both behind and in front of the camera I’m going to stick with it.
Unfortunately, the movie is kind of a mess. I remember that was the consensus back when it came out but I was still holding out some hope. The talent involved is all better than this material, which is so lazy and half-thought out that it all barely forms a movie. And indeed, as I feared when reviewing the campaign, it is the same five jokes over and over again. Well, not necessarily the same actual jokes but the same kind of jokes. It’s a collection of sketches that repeat the same formula in slightly different situations like the screenwriters just thought pure repetition would make something funny, which isn’t the case.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few laughs here and there. But it comes off as a low-rent Road Picture, with Cera and Black bumbling their way through various historical situations instead of Hope and Crosby trying to win the girl. That may have been the model for the story but it forgot that not only do you have to make the characters likeable, which this movie doesn’t, but you have to give them something interesting to do, which this movie doesn’t.
Did the marketing warn of this? Yep. But I fell victim of holding out hope for better than what was on display. That hope was futile, unfortunately.