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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) get married after a whirlwind
romance. As their first year of marriage progresses, they begin to
learn that they don't seem to be very compatible. When one factors in
the reappearance of Josh's previous love interest Chloe (Anna Faris)
and Guy (Simon Baker), a romantically inclined client of Nat's, both of
whom seem to have much more in common with the spouses, one wonders
whether the marriage will survive for a year.
This romcom is, in the modern fashion, fairly rude, so don't go and see it if you are offended by smutty humour, sex, nudity or bad language. It is also, again in the modern fashion, largely powered by the humour of embarrassment (best friend Danny (Stephen Merchant) delivers a Best Man speech of excruciating embarrassment, aware but uncaring of the offence and discomfort he causes, for instance). Again, if you don't care for this sort of humour, you're not going to enjoy the film. And it's clear that a number of reviewers, both professional and other, belong firmly in that camp - nobody likes everything.
But the proof of the pudding lies in the eating. I saw this film in a fairly well attended screening with a mixed audience, mostly mature couples and not the sort of audience I would have expected this film to appeal to, except that they were all people who had experienced the difficulties which the experience of living with someone else brings with it. And that is at the heart of this film. When I wasn't laughing out loud, I was giggling almost constantly - I found this film very funny. And, from the evidence of my ears, I was not alone - there was a lot of (especially female) laughing out loud.
Spall and Faris have some funny stuff, and Byrne is also funny by virtue of playing it straight - of the 4 principals, only Simon Baker suffers from an absence of humorous material. But the secondary characters make up for this, with Merchant's crass best friend and Olivia Coleman's sour relationship counsellor being best of the bunch. There are some very funny set pieces - Baker's attempted hotel seduction, Faris' threesome, Coleman's phone diatribe - and stay through the titles in order to catch Jane Asher's final line.
I really enjoyed this and I recommend it highly (but only if you are in the mood for that sort of thing).
This was just a breath of fresh air. I hate romantic comedies so upon
hearing that this was ANTI romantic comedy and more emphasis placed on
the comedy aspect of the film i wanted to see it. It's a funny, witty,
exquisitely entertaining, and has something for men and women to enjoy.
The situations the characters find themselves in seem entirely natural and not forced which only makes them funnier and everyone done a really good job comically.
What compelled me to write this short review of the film is that despite this being the films release date(8th Feburary) there are no ratings or reviews. It really deserves to be seen and it was great fun. And without giving anything away it's not what you think.
Okay, so imagine you've just finished work, got home and need something
to provide a little bit of background noise whilst sat with your laptop
on brushing up on what's happened in the world, whilst thinking about
what to have for dinner. This film is perfect for that.
This film isn't not funny. It's just not THAT funny. Quirky bits here and there, but once you've heard one sex pun, you've heard 'em all. It never really gets going and half way through the film I could tell I wasn't the only one sat in the cinema thinking this is slowly turning into a bit of a bore.
There are a smattering of funny areas, particularly the Christmas Party scene, but other than that, it's your run-of-the-mill Brit Rom-Com that doesn't really come to life.
Advice? Wait until it turns up on Sky Movies. Then you can judge for free.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I Give It a Year. As a cinema lover, I'd give it a miss! Dan Mazer
(famous for writing Borat and Bruno, starring Sacha Baron Cohen) gives
his directorial debut with this rom com that looks at the trials and
tribulations of a newlywed couple during their first year of marriage.
Rafe Spall and Rose Byrne play the 'happy' couple and the film also
features the likes of Anna Faris, Minnie Driver, Simon Baker and
In a word: terrible. The film is very cruel in the way that the first 5 minutes are actually quite funny with Stephen Merchant giving an incredibly awkward and humorous best man's speech at the wedding of which anyone who has been part of a wedding can relate to and find amusing. You think to yourself that if the movie keeps this tone then you could be in for an hour and a half of laughs.
Instead, what you get is 92 more minutes of very average dialogue that is trying to pass itself off as humour. 95% of the jokes are to do with sex and that is becoming a problem with a lot of films these days like Movie 43 as a prime example. They just aren't clever enough and leave you feeling very disappointed because the scenario of the film can be made into a really funny story with all the things that can go wrong in a marriage. Only a handful of things are portrayed though i.e. leaving the toilet seat up or not taking the bin out when it's full.
As far as rom coms go, it fails miserably at the 'com' part. Stephen Merchant is the only character remotely funny with his typical way of delivering jokes but as for the rest of the cast, it's just appalling! A married couple, played by Minnie Driver and Jason Flemyng, seem to hate each other constantly for no apparent reason and their insults to one another just lack any comedic effect. A disappointing performance as well from Olivia Colman, the newlywed's marriage councillor, who is just a foul mouthed nut case herself with her own marriage problems but, again, the humour isn't there.
Far better rom coms have been made and far better rom coms will be written in the future. Sorry Dan but not the greatest start to a directorial career that I have seen. Maybe stick with Sacha Baron Cohen because even he is funnier than I Give It a Year!
With so many modern romantic comedies reaching the point of
unintentional self parody, we have (thankfully) seen a niche segment
emerge that aims to subvert the conventions that have plagued this once
frothy and enjoyable genre. Fare like (500) Days of Summer, Celeste and
Jesse Forever and Friends with Kids have seen the sins of the father
and have come up with ways to please mainstream audiences but without
insulting their intelligence. I Give It a Year joins these rare ranks
and delivers a sometimes gut busting, always frank and enjoyably clever
look at the trails and tribulations of marriage.
There are certainly times when this British-American hybrid goes too far with its crude dialogue or goofy awkward rants but writer-director Dan Mazer still clearly knows what is funny, and his time writing for Da Ali G Show has served him well in his directorial debut. Certainly the heart and soul of I Give It a Year comes with the well matched talents of its two main leads Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall as a newlywed couple who tied the knot after just seven months together. We often cut back to a session with a brash marriage counsellor who probably does more harm than good and also with Natasha and Josh's interactions with a former flame (Anna Farris) and a business connection (Simon Baker) who may play a larger role as things unwind. Either playing off one another or interacting with the supporting cast these two bring the laughs and a believable depiction of a union in distress.
As can often be the case with a peak into the lives of others, especially into one not on the best of terms, awkwardness follows and so is the case with this film. Like being present as a third wheel while a couple have a spat, some scenes in I Give It a Year ring uncomfortably true. Thankfully what this film avoids is painting either Nat or Josh as the reason for the troubles never opting to paint the wife as merely the shrill, bitchy ninny or the husband as a slovenly tool. Each have their faults, each have their positive attributes and each have the chance to be at the receiving end of an unnecessarily cruel insult or judgement. So while not likable insofar as we're viewing them in tough times, we are able to rationalize with these people and view them as real humans, not just as the brunt of jokes or mere players in a game of marital politics.
The laughs in Mazer's film come from multiple facets, may it be the interplay between characters, situational humour such as a trip to a lingerie shop, or its (often vulgar) wit. The funniest scene (and of the best of the year) involves a visit from the in-laws and a digital picture screen and needless to say the way that Spall plays the situation is absolutely perfect and had be reduced to a cackling idiot. If one buys into the often sarcastic and overly clever dialogue will come down to the viewer, but for the most part it won me over, in large due to how the cast deliver the lines and react in turn.
I Give It a Year also concludes in a perfect way and one that stays true to the same awkward, sardonic tone the rest of the film adopts. To say it slaps in the face every film that wraps up with someone literally running to the airport last minute to proclaim their eternal love would be an understatement. A closer approximation would be that it puts those offerings in a sleeper hold and squeezes out every ounce of maddening cliché. It's satisfying, funny and refreshingly direct. This act is preceded by what is also one of the best "reunion" speeches I've ever heard. I won't spoil anything as to how it unfurls but it too is cooling in its candidness.
While unfortunately not quite parody and maybe never quite as clever as it intends, I Give It a Year is still rife with mirth and deftly understands elements of marriage, relationships and most importantly the irritating formula of the rom-com. Earning its R-rating and showing unequivocally that Byrne, Spall, Farris and Baker are the things of leading men and women, this often uncomfortable but ultimately earnest feature is fun from beginning to end something, as this film reminds us, is nothing at all like marriage.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
All comedy stems from tragedy. Comedy cannot exist with a dramatic
premise because drama forms the situations of reality from which a
narrative can exist and develop. What is said within these situations
becomes the punchline. The stronger the situations and the more
involving the drama of the story, the funnier the film should be.
Modern comedies though often fail to acknowledge the dramatic value of
a situation, hoping the jokes will support themselves.
I Give it a Year didn't draw a single laugh from me. It forgoes the crucial rule of humour: comedy must exist in reality. This is an anomaly for the British studio Working Title Films whose films, including Love Actually and Notting Hill, have grounded themselves in both quiet observation and dry wit. With a script by first time director Dan Mazer, the plot and the characters here are both underdeveloped and the jokes misfire from unrealistic situations and dialogue.
Mazer is a long-time collaborator of Sacha Baron Cohen. He wrote and produced all three of Cohen's feature films, including Borat, which were American-UK productions. Similarly, this film is crassly written as though Working Title Films had a broader demographic in mind, to whom the subject of sex might still seem like the high point of comedy.
The concept is not as subversive as Mazer claims it is either. Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rose Byrne) are a couple who have decided to marry after seven months. None of their friends, including Nat's sister (Minnie Driver), believe that they will last. Two months later and they are already in counselling. Josh has written one book but has failed to grasp the second. Nat is working in an office and frustrated by Josh's complacency and his annoying best friend Danny (Stephen Merchant).
Josh becomes reacquainted with his ex-girlfriend Chloe (Anna Faris) and Nat is attracted to the smooth talking and successful Guy (Simon Baker), an American client who likes her but doesn't know that she is married. The familiar premise of two people already spoken for attaches itself to a gimmick where we are meant to realise that Josh and Nat don't belong to each other and are better suited to other partners.
The film postures as being about the aftermath of commitment, including the consequences of rushing into a marriage. However, this concept is not treated with any dramatic weight or seriousness for the situations to hold any trace of drama or tragedy. Instead, we're reminded frequently of why the couple is unsuited but the point is obvious and laboured: we're meant to laugh at a failing relationship that was never promising to begin with.
Mazer also diminishes the comedy by reducing scenes into disconnected skits, determined to embarrass characters, even the ones that we're meant to be rooting for. The characters are so thinly drawn that it disperses the likelihood of seeing them growing and having an emotional attachment. Being made a slacker, Josh is the target for a lot of juvenile humiliations including: his in-laws seeing naked photos of him! Or dancing drunkenly like Beyoncé at Nat's work function!
The potential partners aren't free from this degradation either. Anna Faris has a terribly unfunny scene where she is squashed under a would- be threesome with her partner and another girl. Simon Baker, whose performance overloads on unctuousness, has his romantic credibility strained in a stupid scene where he brings a violinist and doves to a private board meeting with Nat. Would it spoil the gag to mention there is a fan in the room?
Stephan Merchant is a hugely talented comedian but his role is singular: to be as obnoxious as possible, reminding us how even Josh's friends repulsive to Nat. He echoes Spike from Notting Hill, but minus anything resembling a character arc. He exists to say unlikely things, like a wedding speech where he talks about having sex with bridesmaids. It's unbearably grating and not funny.
Much of the dialogue in I Give it a Year resides in this level of smuttiness to hold the audience's attention in the absence of drama and conflict. But comedy that retains dramatic purpose is always preferable to comedy for comedy's sake. The tragedy that should uphold the dramatic framework of the story must be relative to the characters, not the film itself.
After reading some of the reviews I was not sure what to expect. I found a movie that was better than expected. Myself and the whole theatre were laughing out loud throughout. Some of the reviewers just love to read their own writing and some of us don't want every movie to be "Lincoln". We just want a good old fashioned, don't think too much movie that makes us laugh. If you like American slapstick humour this is not it. It is terrific British humour at its best. If you liked "Something about Mary" you will love this. I just got back an hour ago and am still laughing. Watch the trailer, if you like it then go see the movie. Unlike many films where the best bits are in the trailer and thats it, the trailer just serves as an appetizer. If you are a prude don't go. If you are like the rest of us and want a good night out go see it. Don't be put off by reviewers who wouldn't know funny if they sat on it.
I Give It a Year
I really wanted to like this film but as I watched I became more and more irritated by it. Dan Mazer tried far too hard to deliver what I'm sure he thought were amusing British comedy one liners but it was overdone, lacked originality and was frankly boring. Any acting skill was dwarfed by poor overburdened script writing which made authenticity difficult to execute.
The scenes, characters, story line and plot have all been done far better in other British classics like Notting Hill and Four Weddings where everything gels beautifully. Here however is a mish-mash of nonsense that fails to deliver. I was tempted to switch off 10 minutes through but thought I may as well give it a shot. What a disappointment!
This movie demonstrates a new non-comic genre of British film making which is too overdone to be funny, too unrealistic to be engaging and too irritating to be entertaining. I give it the thumbs down
I got this for the actors, whom I all think are brilliant. I didn't
know much about it, but read the back cover description on the DVD and
thought, eh, worth a shot... And I leave this movie appalled. Hardly
funny - a few key moments, but mostly trying too hard to be
"alternative" - and the main characters are generally unlikeable.
Actually, I retract that: Josh is okay, but Nat I despise. I literally
rooted out loud for Chloe (Anna Feris), the ex-girlfriend. And Simon
Baker in another ridiculously alluring/womanizing role to a committed
woman... I just didn't find it funny. The only heart I saw in the film
was a small moment between Minnie Driver's character and the
character's husband, a brief respite from this train wreck of a film.
If you're looking for a quirky, against-the-grain romantic comedy, you could do much better anywhere else.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the press releases proclaimed I Give it a Year as the best
British film of the year. Fortunately, the year is still very young.
And last year they saved the best, Sightseers, for last. Fear not,
there is still much cause for hope.
The title and the trailer tell you everything you need to know, so no synopsis here. It begins strongly with a 'watch through your fingers' best man's speech from Danny (Stephen Merchant), which, though he cannot hope to match that speech from Four Weddings and a Funeral, prompts as many chuckles as he does groans. He doesn't merely dig himself a hole of humiliation, he keeps on digging until he disappears from sight, unaware that everyone else is either squirming or preparing to kill.
The wedding scenes establish I Give it a Year perfectly, providing plenty of evidence of how woefully mismatched couple, Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rose Byrne) are and the relationships between couple and in-laws, while providing plenty of opportunity for background humour. Watch for the destruction caused by the horribly twee and ecologically disastrous tradition of Chinese lanterns.
And then it thuds.
I Give it a Year desperately wants to be an original rom-com but it hasn't the balls to see it through.
*********** MASSIVE PLOT SPOILER ALERT *********** Writer Dan Mazer hit an Oscar-nominated high with his screenplay for Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan but fails to come even close to that constant barrage of gags and clever dialogue. And not even the director can save him because, oh, it's Dan Mazer. He presents a couple whose biggest crime is not being stereotypical but being unpleasant at heart. They both fall for other people (Josh for Chloe, his ex-girlfriend; Nat for Guy, a new client) who are genuine and more interested in other people and helping make the world a better place than in wearing designer labels or climbing the career ladder.
While at first Josh appears devoted to Nat, we discover he's critical, lazy and controlling. And Nat, though apparently a sweet Venus, is actually self-centred, demanding and lacking in understanding. Meanwhile, Chloe (Anna Faris) and Guy (Simon Baker) are presented to us as perfect. When they are thrust together by default it is a moment to exhale a satisfied sigh and expect an evolving script that bravely gives the unpleasant leads their comeuppance and allows the underdogs true love and happiness.
But that initial hint at Mazer's ability to give us something new with I Give it a Year is short lived and he fails monumentally by having the wrong couples get together when they are clearly not suitable for each other. What is he playing at? It isn't sweet, it isn't romantic, it isn't a tail of love, it's a balls-up of a genuinely good idea. It rarely climbs above 'vaguely amusing' and frequently falls below 'ho-hum.' Moreover, when we hit the final scene where true love supposedly finds its way, it's just an amateurish mess that leaves us annoyed.
That said, the presence of Minnie Driver as Nat's a sour-faced friend almost makes the 97-minute running time worthwhile. Her glares may be withering but the way she scythes her husband (Jason Flemying) is delightful and Mazer has the good sense not to over-do her appearances.
The funniest lines are delivered by the underused Nigel Planer (curiously uncredited on IMDb) as Josh's dad and Jane Asher as the mother-in-law from hell (you'll need to watch the credits for her humdinger) but the thief of the film is Olivia Colman. Again. While her first scene as the marriage guidance counsellor edges towards pantomime, her later scene where she lets rip at her husband over the phone is comedy magic and the standout moment of I Give it a Year.
Alas, it's not enough to make the admission price worthwhile.
I Give it a Year is neither the worst nor the funniest film of 2013. The year is in its infancy and we'll see more at either end of the scale in the coming 11 months. It is little more than another wasted idea with a few very funny moments that won't justify your time or the production budget.
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