I Give It a Year doesn’t reach its potential by a long shot, largely due to the sheer lack of originality in a script that isn’t particularly funny.
I Give It a Year
Dan Mazer isnt exactly new to the film industry, having worked extensively with Sacha Baron Cohen in the past helping to write comedies such as Borat and Bruno. I Give It a Year is, however, his directorial debut, and what an interesting premise it has—where most films end when the two main characters tie the knot, this one starts with the wedding, and then goes on to take a look at married life. The problem is, I Give It a YearRose Byrne), an attractive but uptight workaholic, and Josh (Rafe Spall), a goofy laid-back writer. It seems in this case that opposites did indeed attract, but at the end of the day the differences between them are more important than they anticipated, with Josh’s dopey attitude quickly getting under Nat’s skin and her demanding temperament doing the same for him. It doesn’t help that better prospects seem to lurk in the wings for both of them, with Nat’s suave new American client Guy (Simon Baker) taking a keen interest in her, and the reappearance of Josh’s old (again American) flame, cute charity worker Chloe (Anna Faris). The story’s told from 9 months in, when the couple are seeing a marriage counselor to deal with their problems, so from early on it’s not hard to guess what kind of direction the film is going to take.
For a film that advertises itself as an anti-rom-com, it is unfortunately just as susceptible to the cliches and stereotypes we’d expect from the rom-com genre, albeit with characters that are not nearly as likeable. Nat comes across as irritating more than anything, making it largely unbelievable when Guy is so taken with her, and even though the film seems to side with Josh, even he is so goofy that it goes past the point of adorable. In contrast, their prospective lovers are both appealing, with Baker and Faris being pretty talented and charming, but their characters are too two dimensional for us to really feel much attachment to them – perhaps with greater development of these two, the chemistry between the four characters (which is currently close to nonexistent) could have been more engaging.
There are some genuine laughs found in I Give It a Year, playing up the comedy that exists in the absurd and extorting the amusement that comes with watching embarrassing and awkward scenes play out. However, the humor quickly disappears when each joke is drawn out for too long, and the embarrassment begins to only make us cringe, rather than laugh. One scene in which Chloe finds herself accidentally involved in a threesome begins as fairly funny, particularly with Faris’ cute disposition seeming too innocent for such situations, but even Faris can’t keep it entertaining when it is so overly lengthened.
Stephen Merchant’s appearance as Josh’s best man Danny is particularly a disappointment, given his penchant for hilarity, but we get the overwhelming feeling that he’s simply thrown in to deliver some politically incorrect lines to shock us; what these lines really serve to do is make us feel uncomfortable. This is perhaps due to the fact that much of the dialogue—whether from Danny or from other characters—isn’t realistic enough for us to believe that people would actually say these things. From Olivia Colman’s role as the marriage counselor, who seems to have nothing but disdain for marriage, to Minnie Driver’s part as Nat’s sister Naomi whose own marriage is something of a shambles, their frequent comments on how the couple should just give up may be mildly amusing, but aren’t very likely or even feasible.
While it’s good to see a film that accepts the reality that sometimes marriages don’t work, it’s subsequent lack of a plausible plot or likeable main characters make it somewhat frustrating. With its nice but predictable ending, I Give It a Year is one of those films where if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve basically seen the best it has to offer.