Harold Ramis talks ‘Year One,’ religion, doody

06.19.09 8 years ago

Ocean Pictures/Apatow Company

Apparently, director Harold Ramis has had the concept for “Year One” rolling around in his head for more than a decade. The comedy mastermind conceded that “very few young people are interested in religion,” but hoped the film – starring Jack Black and Michael Cera – would at least carry some political and philosophical underpinnings between gags and hot babes.

The Ocean Pictures/Apatow Company production kicks off in a cave-man township, with typically oafish Black (Zed) and characteristally awkward Cera (Oh) as the village outcasts, both with unattainable lusts for the local hotties.

In a move of defiance, Zed eats forbidden fruit from the tree in Cro-Magnon Eden and is forced out, taking Oh with him. From there, Ramis leads the pair through a few Old Testament Bible stories, including encounters with Cain — David Cross — and Abel (shock humor), the formation of Jewish law under Abraham (penis jokes) and pre-destruction of Sodom (sex, gay, drugs, fun!). Throughout, though, there is the questioning of authority, whether God-given or forcefully attained.

 “I realized… that no matter how far back you go into history, humans have the same needs,” Ramis said ambiguously during a roundtable chat in New York earlier this week, revealing, too, that his Rabbi was amongst the stars littering the movie’s premiere.

Those human needs, obviously, include laughter, which Ramis achieves easily through “the “spirit of” Judd Apatow and decades of cinematic guffaws, from his origins at Second City, writing “Animal House,” directing “Caddyshack” and unforgettable role in “Ghostbusters,” “Knocked Up” and beyond.

But even in Caddyshack, nobody actually eats “doody,” a feat that can’t be spared in “Year One.” Has humor gotten grosser?

“[Year One] is not pandering. We know our demographic,” Ramis says, citing his 14- and 19-year-old sons. “I made this movie with them in mind. I tap into that adolescent part of my brain.”

A fair share of adults, of course, wanted in on the action. Actors like Paul Rudd, Oliver Platt and Hank Azaria play significant roles in the film, and a slew of comedy lovers – including “Saturday Night Live” cast like Andy Samberg. “It wasn’t that he wasn’t funny [in auditions]. It was like, ‘God, what am I gonna do with Andy Samberg?'” Ramis says.

The actor/director/writer said little about any other upcoming projects, including long-gestating “Ghostbusters III.” The original ‘Busters themselves will continue in the same roles and Ramis’ involvement has always been in the contractual cards. Writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg – who co-penned “Year One” with Ramis and are leading men behind the scripts for “The Office” – are the screenplay writers for GB3.

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