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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Much of the movie mocks prehistoric/Old Testament-era attitudes about everything from worship to gender relations ("give her a little tap on the head -- women really respond to that"). It's clearly satirical, but it can be difficult to separate the satire from the depiction of questionable acts. There's also lots of potty humor (including one character eating feces and another peeing on his own face), extensive discussion of sex, violence, and some strong racial and gay stereotyping. It's all meant in fun, but it's regrettably not that funny.
Positive Role Models
Although the two main characters generally mean well, they're not really meant to be seen as role models -- Zed acts rashly and doesn't consider the consequences of his behavior, while Oh is a little too passive and often gets caught up in situations against his will. Women are frequently objectified, and characters are routinely portrayed in stereotypical fashion.
Violence & Scariness
Scuffling, mostly for comedic purposes. Cain repeatedly beats his brother Abel with a stone, a man is speared in the shoulder, virgins are hurled into a sacrificial flame (a high priest doused with oil also wanders a little too close...), characters are stoned in public, a woman is punched in the face, characters are attacked by a cougar and a snake, a soothsayer reads bloody entrails, characters are whipped, and prisoners are hung upside down.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Extensive discussion of sex, sexual acts, and techniques; many jokes about "sodomy," as much of the plot takes place in the ancient city of Sodom. References to "laying with"; at one point it's implied that a character has "lain with" their mother. One character explains that she's "into girls," plus other references to homosexual acts (including between priests and boys). Also references to coerced sex, orgies, enuchs, and virginity (and its absence). Kissing, scantily clad women and men. Discussion of castration, circumcision, and more.
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Pretty frequent strong language, including "suck," "a--hole," "ass," "f--ked the pooch," "s--t," "crap," "hell," "dick," "poop," "bastards," 'bulls--t," and more. Discussions of "sodomy."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink wine and liquor and smoke pipes. References to "killer hemp."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this farcical romp through the Book of Genesis -- which was originally rated R but got edited down to an edgy PG-13 -- is full of slapstick violence, crude sexual material, strong language (including "f--k"), and stereotypes. Since it stars Jack Black and Michael Cera, it's pretty clear that this isn't The Flintstones: There's lots of gross-out humor (bear feces are viewed up close, an obese hairy man gets an oil massage, a eunuch carries his removed testicles around in a small pouch, etc., etc.) and some fairly pointed mocking of the ideas and concepts of the Old Testament. Whether that adds up to ribald fun or offensive insults will depend on your perceptions. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director Ramis (Groundhog Day) may be a comedy titan, but YEAR ONE feels both slapdash and slow -- as if the film felt like it could spread out the few jokes it had by dawdling between scenes. Black and Cera are both funny insofar as they do what they normally do -- Black is wild and wacky, Cera reserved and repressed -- but the movie doesn't ask them to do much more, and the supporting players (including David Cross, Hank Azaria, Paul Rudd, and Oliver Platt) consistently steal scenes out from under the stars.
Perhaps the original, R-rated cut of Year One was funnier, but that seems unlikely; some scenes have such weak transitions that you find yourself confused by how characters got from one to the other -- and wondering what went missing in between. The plodding pace doesn't help, either -- the movie feels padded and slow and bogs down unforgivably in too many places. Year One has gags and costumes galore, but it doesn't have the snap that would make it truly funny throughout, instead of scattering a few gags against a backdrop of tedium.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.