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Weak, in Review

Harold Ramis and Woody Allen get mostly panned

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Larry David in a still from Whatever Works.(Sony Pictures Classics)

Harold Ramis’s film Year One opens today, and most critics seem to agree with MTV that the teaming of Ramis, co-producer Judd Apatow, and a bevy of comedic stars including leads Jack Black and Michael Cera, “might seem a match made in comedy heaven, and you might expect the picture to kill. But it overkills, in an altogether underwhelming way.” The A.V. Club accuses the film of committing “comedy heresy when Black ends up learning a lesson at the end,” while the Los Angeles Times is moved to ask, “Ever wonder what would happen if you locked some screenwriters in a room with a history of man, an Old Testament, some really potent pot and a tape recorder?” Pop Matters takes more intellectual aim, declaring that “though the film seems mostly determined to skewer self-serving Judeo-Christian myths, its critique is at once misogynist, heterosexist, and resolutely incoherent,” while Roger Ebert calls it simply “a dreary experience.” The lone advocate is New York Times critic Manohla Dargis, who makes Year One a “critic’s pick” for its “generous” laughs and “knowing and often profane swats at the sacred.”

The kvetching about Woody Allen’s newest, Whatever Works, starring Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, and Patricia Clarkson, is just a bit more tempered. J. Hoberman at The Village Voice calls it “an exercise in Woody Allen nostalgia” that “goes out of its way to mock It’s a Wonderful Life [but] winds up even more lazily pandering.” Entertainment Weekly concedes that the script was written in the 1970s, “but still, the guy couldn’t maybe come up with some new spritz of nu?” The New Yorker says that Clarkson “just about rescues” the film, while blurb-machine Peter Travers of Rolling Stone says that while “not everything works,” fans won’t be able to resist “the comic mind–meld” of Allen and David, “On that level, at least,” he says, “there’s no need to curb your enthusiasm.”

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Weak, in Review

Harold Ramis and Woody Allen get mostly panned

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