Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2009 by David Chen
This past week saw the release of Harold Ramis’ Year One, with an all-star cast featuring Michael Cera, Jack Black, David Cross, Paul Rudd, etc. While the film had a few laughs, overall, we thought it was poorly put together and not really worthy of Ramis’ glory days. The script is half-baked, most of the humor is juvenile, and many scenes from the film seem truncated, with probably a lot of material left on the cutting room floor.
One thing that the film constantly mines for laughs is the fact that Jack Black and Michael Cera act very much like fish-out-of-water in the Biblical setting. The interplay between them and the other characters, who behave very much like they are part of the correct time period, helps to generate a lot of the awkward situations (and hopefully, hilarity!). On this week’s episode of The Totally Rad Show, /Film friend Dan Trachtenberg made a comparison to Shanghai Noon, in which Owen Wilson’s cowboy character acts like he’s…Owen Wilson from America, circa the 1990s.
While the idea of Owen Wilson playing Owen Wilson in a Western really didn’t appeal to me in concept, I actually found some guilty-pleasure-style enjoyment out of Shanghai Noon. There have been many movies that similarly feature anachronistic characters, where the film is set in a historical period but the characters think and behave how they might today. The Monty Python films come to mind, along with Shrek and perhaps A Knight’s Tale.
So, what are some of your favorite films featuring anachronistic characters, and do you think the film uses their presence to great effect? Also, how do they compare to Year One?