Last month, it was reported that Olivia Wilde was going to star in the Judd Apatow-produced “biblical comedy” Year One as Princess Inanna, a love interest for the Jack Black character whose name, according to Wikipedia, happens to be identical to that of “the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare.”
Then, two weeks ago, it was reported that Hank Azaria was joining the cast as a guy named Abraham. You mean, that Abraham…?
Could be. Today, Wilde told the MTV Movies Blog a little more about her character, and about the film in general:
“I play the princess of Sodom,” she explained. “Michael Cera and Jack Black go on this journey, and they are searching for the meaning of life, essentially; all these crazy things happen to them, and they meet all these characters you’ll recognize from the bible. It’s all these brilliant references to historical things that people will recognize, and some things from other films.”
For those who aren’t up on their “Davey and Goliath” reruns, the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah were two biblical cities destroyed by God because of their rampant sexual activities and immorality – needless to say, a concept rife with comedic possibility. “It’s gonna be really interesting to see the way they set that up, how much we use the Sodom and Gomorrah feeling that they’re completely wicked places; I’m really excited to see Ramis’ vision for that,” she grinned, getting ready to rule over such an orgy of excess. “There’ll be a hint towards [the lead characters falling for me], then Jack Black and I come together. It’s really funny what we do, and what happens next.”
So the film features a character named Abraham and it features Sodom and Gomorrah, two towns that were rescued from a foreign invasion by the biblical Abraham (Genesis 14) and eventually destroyed by God during the biblical Abraham’s lifetime (Genesis 18-19)? Okay, that would seem to settle it. This movie almost certainly will feature biblical characters and perhaps even biblical plot points, even if they are kept to the margins like the biblical elements were in Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979).
Oh, and about the reasons for Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction: Those two towns have certainly long had a reputation for sexual impropriety, mainly because a mob there tried to gang-rape a couple of visiting angels. (It’s not just the rape that was bad; sex between angels and humans was a big no-no for the Hebrews too, and was likely one of the reasons the Flood was sent in Noah’s day, as per Genesis 6.) But the one time the Old Testament spells out what, exactly, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was, in Ezekiel 16, sex doesn’t enter into the picture, at least not explicitly:
“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”
Some have suggested that the word translated “detestable” here may refer to certain kinds of sexual activity, and that is certainly possible; but Ezekiel uses that word to refer to a lot of things — such as idolatry — so it is by no means a foregone conclusion that he was only or even primarily referring to sex, there.
But back to the movie. It would be truly impressive if Year One reflected any awareness of the Ezekiel passage. But … I’m not counting on it. Sex sells better than messages against pride and poverty, and it’s easier to get a laugh out of sexual behaviour than it is to get laughs out of those sorts of messages, too.