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Move review: I Give it a Year

Updated on February 6, 2013

In the nineties, Hugh Grant made both Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill. He probably had little idea at the time that he was responsible – along with writer/director Richard Curtis – in creating the yard sticks by which all future British rom-coms would be measured with such scrutiny.

I Give it a Year is yet another attempt to become the next break-out Brit-Rom-Com – but can it possibly succeed without an appearance by Hugh Grant?

After only dating for seven months, Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rose Byrne) have decided to tie the proverbial knot. They seem madly in love so it would appear stupid not to. Maybe it's because of her own bitter relationship, or the fact that she's just generally bitter herself, but Nat's sister Naomi (Minnie Driver) mutters under her breath on their big day that she only gives it a year.

Despite initially looking like proving her damning prediction wrong, the newlyweds soon find that the whole being married thing proves to be more difficult than they would ever like to admit, especially to one another.

After writing and producing both Brüno and Borat, as well as writing and producing episodes for Sacha Baron Cohen's straight outta Staine's character Ali G, Dan Mazer has decided to focus his subversive energies on his first directing gig.

For the first half of the film, he wears his comedy roots on his sleeve; there's a delightful edginess to his script that's delivered with real enthusiasm by some great British talent. In Spall, Mazer has the complete antithesis to Hugh Grant; Spall's Josh is a watered down version of his Pete Versus Life character, but with more likeability. He's about as un-dashing and de-foppish as you can possibly get, making him a more amiable everyman because of it.

There are two female performances that let the side down however. First is the undoubtedly talented Rose Byrne. The Australian actress showed a flair for comedy in Bridesmaids, but sadly struggles with being the comic female lead. She's most definitely the straight 'man' in the Byrne and Spall double act, but the role demanded an actress with greater comic awareness. In truth, someone more like her Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig would have done the job nicely, but Byrne just isn't in the same comedic league, and let's face it, and never will be.

And then there's Anna Faris. Her role is to play the alternative love interest, a part that she should have been at least competent with, considering her history in broad comedies. Now it's difficult to tell if it's at all intentional, or if it's the result of some poorly judged plastic surgery, but Faris, particularly in the face, takes the appearance of an unattractive male hobbit. Every time it appears on screen it looks as if it's been altered by some crazy photo app. Needless to say, it's not a good look. In fact it's quite disturbing.

Within the context of the story then, it's difficult to imagine Josh contemplating leaving the beautiful Nat, to spend some time with someone who should really be on some adventure in Middle Earth. Why Faris was cast is a complete mystery.

Thankfully there are some great comic turns, particularly from Stephen Merchant and Olivia Colman; in fact the film might have been better off with having these two pair up as the central characters, as there would have certainly more laughs to be had if it did.

It's a shame then that Mazer undoes all his hard work at giving this genre a subversive make-over in the first half, by becoming more clichéd and predictable in the second. It's as if the rom-com trade union caught wind of his antics and soon put a stop to him.

The film certainly has its fair share of laugh out loud moments, but ultimately fails for not delivering on its full potential. It would be OK for a cheeky snog at the end of the night outside the chippy, but you wouldn't want to put a ring on it.

3 Booms

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    • Boomuk profile imageAUTHOR

      Boom 

      5 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks for your comment. She was excellent in Damages, particularly when you consider who she was acting opposite - the great Glenn Close. This rom-com definitely has its moments, but Byrne does struggle in the comedic lead role.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      I've never heard of this film, but I've always liked Rose Byrne for her dramatic roles in Damages and Wicker Park. She was also great in her supporting role in bridesmaids, but I can't picture her as the lead in a comedy. Thanks for your review. I found it helpful.

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