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Clan of Cave Dorks 

Jack Black, Michael Cera unable to lift unfunny Year One

Previews

They're baaack. This summer, the battle between those uber-noble Autobots and the wicked-evil Decepticons rages ever on. That's right. It's time to strap your self in for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the 2+ hour revival of the universe-shaking conflict between robotic alien species. Shia LaBeouf returns in this sequel as Sam Witwicky, that unfortunate lad who keeps getting targeted by the Decepti-robros and their douche-ocracy, and Megan Fox is back as his loving girl, Mikaela Banes. Frankly, it sounds like a bit much to take in all at once. But if you like those creatures that pack more than meets the eye, it sounds like you're in for a treat. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material and brief drug material. 151m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, the Minor and Fortuna.

As painful as I think the previous opening may be to sit through, this next opening flick might just be even rougher to endure since it's about a young girl's struggles with cancer and how her family is torn apart. My Sister's Keeper, most certainly a downer and definitely for people that like to cry, is the story of a young fresh family that learns their beloved daughter has leukemia. To save her life, they have another daughter to farm for healthy organs. Naturally, the harvested kid takes a stand when she gets a bit older. Yikes. Talk about bad blood. Starring Abigail Breslin and Cameron Diaz and rated PG-13 for mature thematic content, some disturbing images, sensuality, language and brief teen drinking. 109m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

-- Emily Hobelmann

Reviews

YEAR ONE: A recent study of conservatives who watch The Colbert Report concluded that a significant portion of them were probably oblivious to Stephen's satirical jabs at Republicans, instead operating under the assumption that the Comedy Central host was actually secretly on their side and shared their convictions. Similarly, after viewing Year One one wonders if some of the veiled attacks on religious fundamentalism and biblical interpretation will slip by a large portion of those who are most invested in the subject matter and walk out content that their beloved traditions were validated by their inclusion in a big-budget Hollywood film. Since The Passion of the Christ proved that a faith-based film could be a huge financial success, you can't help but feel that the screenwriters for "Year One" were snickering to themselves at the prospect of tricking some money out of the wallets of a group of people whose beliefs they clearly question. Unfortunately for them, while they may be successful in their financial aims thanks to the star power of Jack Black and Michael Cera, the fruits of their labor will most likely underwhelm the choir they are preaching to.

What's most disappointing about Year One is that the film has so many potentially glorious aspects to it, nearly all of which never live up to their promise. Expectations could be understandably high, considering Black's recent success in the fundamentalist-mocking genre playing Jesus in the satirical viral mini-movie "Prop. 8: The Musical," which poked fun at popular Biblical interpretation. Religion has provided fodder for thoughtful and comedic movies in the past (Life of Brian, Dogma, Saved!), so it's unfortunate that the film, a journey through many Old Testament stories, personalities and locations, lacks a reliable road map. What we get is a one-joke premise that appears to have been taken out of the oven before reaching full deliciousness.

Directed by Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day), the film centers on two neolithic hunter-gatherers who look like they would be more at home on the Arcata Plaza than in ancient Israel. Zed (Black) and Oh (Cera) are banished from their tribe for eating from the Tree of Knowledge and find themselves traveling an unexplainable path through 2,000 years of Judeo-Christian tradition. Along the way, they come across a predictable confrontation between Cain and Abel, save Isaac before escaping the threat of circumcision by Abraham (played by Hank Azaria in a standout performance) and make the obligatory trip to to the sex joke goldmine of Sodom (but not Gomorrah? C'mon!). Zed and Oh are sold into slavery, but in classic Mario Bros. fashion overcome their lowly status to save a virgin princess about to be sacrificed. Yay.

Year One is not unwatchable, thanks in part to Black's over-the-top performance and Cera's turn as a scrawny, lovable nerd. But we've seen them play these roles before, and while the chemistry between the two is considerable, with Black being the brains of the operation, dragging the reluctant Cera into his wackiness, it feels as though the stars rely too heavily on their individual comedic strengths to make up for the lack of genuinely funny material. All I'm saying is that a plot would have been nice. Yes, under the right circumstances, watching Black eat human feces to prove himself an adept tracker, or witnessing the meek, gold-painted slave boy Cera forced to rub oil on an ultra-hairy high priest would be cause for uproarious laughter and applause, but the fact that they seem to be tacked on to a comedy script that was lacking enough comedy cheapens their effect. (Okay, the poop-eating was funny.)

Ultimately, the film gets in its expected critiques of the subject matter without being condescending and preachy. Jack Black fans will be pleased by the fact that he essentially plays the role he plays in most of his projects. But if you were expecting an intelligent and silly take on such a huge, inexhaustibly rich subject like the Book of Genesis, you'll be disappointed when all you get is "dumb" and "dumber." Then again, since Year One was probably not intended for intense critical scrutiny, the audience it attracts will most likely get exactly what it was hoping for. For the sake of the sizable group of yahoos who salivate for Biblical humor, hopefully the Year One crew will spend a little more time making their Exodus flick. I mean, what's potentially funnier than 40 years in a desert? Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, brief strong language and comic violence. 109m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, the Minor and Fortuna.

-- Andrew Goff

Continuing

17 AGAIN. Middle-aged father wakes up one day as a 17-year-old, so he tries it on for size. Rated PG-13. 102m. At The Movies.

ANGELS AND DEMONS. In schlocky Da Vinci sequel, swashbuckling religious historian (T. Hanks) travels through pop history to rescue the Catholic church. Rated PG-13. 139m. At The Movies.

DRAG ME TO HELL. Spooks, ancient curses and Satan's eternal evil plague a suburban bank manager. Directed by S. Raimi. Rated PG-13. 99m. At The Movies.

THE HANGOVER. Getting severely trashed with your bros at a Vegas-based bachelor party can have serious consequences, especially when no one remembers what happened. Rated R. 100m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, the Minor and Fortuna.

LAND OF THE LOST. Feature-length film version of tripped-out classic TV series stars the one and only Will Ferrell. Rated PG-13. 106m. At the Broadway.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN. Museum exhibits come to life leading to a history-packed battle of good versus evil. Rated PG. 105m. At the Broadway.

PROPOSAL. High-powered book editor faces deportation to Canada, so she ropes her unsuspecting assistant into a marriage engagement. Rated PG-13. 108m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.

STAR TREK. Get the action-packed back-story on Kirk and Spock's rivalry-ridden relationship. Rated PG-13. 127m. At the Broadway.

TAKING OF PELHAM 1-2-3. Criminal mastermind leads a gang threatening to execute a NY subway train's passengers unless a ransom is paid. Too bad a subway dispatcher steps in as an unlikely hero. Rated R. 106m. At Mill Creek and Fortuna.

TERMINATOR SALVATION. Young John Connor (C. Bale) leads human resistance to robotic overlords. But first he must solve a mystery! Rated PG-13. 115m. At The Movies.

UP. In Pixar's latest, an elderly gentleman sets out to fulfill lifelong dream despite annoying Boy Scout tagalong. Rated PG. 101m. At the Broadway (2-D and 3-D), Mill Creek and Fortuna (3-D).

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. Film leads up to events of X-Men with story of Wolverine's epically violent and romantic past. Rated PG-13. 107m. At The Movies.

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Andrew Goff

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