Fill up that bucket of popcorn and order 64 ounces of your favorite soda — the summer movie season has nearly begun! As always, MTV News has it covered for you every which way with our annual Summer Movie Preview Week! Keep checking MTVNews.com all week for exclusive interviews and clips from [movie id="347265"]“Terminator Salvation,”[/movie] [movie id="307087"]“Harry Potter,”[/movie] [movie id="305755"]“Star Trek,”[/movie] [movie id="404229"]“Inglourious Basterds”[/movie] and more.
[movie id="349805"]“Year One”[/movie] is not exactly your typical summer blockbuster. There are no high-tech robots, no superheroes, no mind-bending special effects. The movie is a high-concept comedy about two disaffected Stone Age hunters/gatherers ([movieperson id="163196"]Jack Black[/movieperson] and [movieperson id="297537"]Michael Cera[/movieperson]) who embark on an epic journey through the biblical era. It’s the type of film you don’t see much anymore. And that’s precisely why you should be excited.
For director [movieperson id="95148"]Harold Ramis[/movieperson], the mind behind some of the finest high-concept comedies ever (“Ghostbusters,” “Groundhog Day”), the desire to make a buddy comedy set in ancient religious times began without any thought of competing with big-budget popcorn flicks and instead with a very straightforward idea: He thought it would make people laugh.
“I see one insane, dysfunctional family after another [in the Bible],” he told MTV News. “To take someone with a contemporary consciousness and put him in that situation at the origin of all our worst social and political and religious issues and have them comment on it could be a very funny movie.”
Thus, laughs — not biblical accuracy — became the driving force for screenwriters Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (“The Office”). Instead of Holy Scripture, influences skewed toward old-school comedy: Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” and Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner’s “2000 Year Old Man” recordings. Ramis maintained that another comedy set in ancient times — Brooks’ “History of the World, Part I” — did not serve as an inspiration.
“I think we’ll be filling people’s heads with some terrible misconceptions,” Ramis laughed. “I’m sure we’ll end up being protested.”
The only problem for would-be protesters might be choosing which scene to get huffy over. The first people Black and Cera run into are Cain and Abel (Paul Rudd and David Cross), who get into a ridiculous, vicious brawl leading to Abel’s painfully slow death (“The violence begins!” Ramis laughs). Then there’s the dynamic, played for laughs, between Abraham (Hank Azaria) and his son Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), whom Dad’s been instructed to sacrifice. And finally, Black and Cera end up in the city of Sodom, where they contend with a pedophile priest. The Sodom set was reconstructed, ironically, in the heart of the American Bible Belt.
Ramis knew from the start he wanted Jack Black to play one of the lead roles, but when producer Judd Apatow pitched Michael Cera for the other main part, Ramis replied, “Isn’t he, like, 12 years old?” Then Ramis watched scenes from “Superbad” and realized, “Wow, the kid’s amazing.”
The actors’ almost 20-year age difference didn’t matter at all. “Jack is so completely juvenile and Michael is sweet, but he’s mature beyond his years,” Ramis said. “They were great together.”
“Year One” comes out June 19, in the middle of a summer packed solid with sci-fi reboots and big-budget sequels. “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” appears just one week later, but Ramis isn’t concerned about his film’s box-office prospects.
” ‘Transformers’ is worried,” he joked. “[Michael Bay is] scared.”
“I think we’re sandwiched,” he added with a shrug. “It’s like driving a Smart car between semis on the expressway!”
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