I Give It a Year, 2013.
Written and Directed by Dan Mazer.
Starring Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Anna Farris, Simon Baker, Minnie Driver, Stephen Merchant and Olivia Coleman.
Dan Mazer’s Brit rom-com examines the various trials and tribulations of newlyweds Nat and Josh in their first year of marriage.
You wouldn’t expect the producer behind Borat and Ali G to delve into the rom-com genre but Mazer steps into the role with ease and delivers a hilarious comedy. I Give It a Year charts the dysfunctional first year of Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh’s (Rafe Spall) mismatched marriage. You only see glimpses of the couple’s courtship, before you’re at the wedding listening to a supremely awkward best man’s speech (delivered by the film’s true star Stephen Merchant) and the next thing you know it’s 9 months later and the two are in couples counselling. From the outset Mazer inverts our expectations and confirms that this won’t be a traditional romantic comedy.
I Give It a Year truly exceeds in the comedy side of things with a multitude of laugh out loud moments littered throughout. Most of the laughs are provided by the supporting cast consisting of inappropriate best friend Danny (Merchant), a wildly unhinged therapist (Coleman) and Nat’s malicious sister played expertly by Driver. By littering the film with these three characters, Mazer ensures that the laughs keep coming. Spall has some great moments throughout – his Beyonce dance is unmissable – but the central relationship is uncomfortable to watch and only goes to emphasise that Mazer has focused on comedy more than romance.
If you want to go see a film and be heartwarmed then this isn’t the right one. Whilst the laughs come thick and fast, there’s no emotional centre and Nat and Josh’s relationship is almost painful to watch at times. Their potential partners (Anna Farris and Simon Baker) do their best to ignite the romance but they’re largely underused. Farris gets her shining moment during an awkward sequence, which proves how far she’s come since the days of Scary Movie. Baker on the other hand is largely one dimensional and isn’t given the screen time to develop his character.
At the centre of this unconventional “romance” is Rafe Spall and Rose Byrne. Rafe Spall excels in the role and makes his character Josh loveable, charming, and goofy at the same time. In comparison Rose Byrne’s character Nat is annoying and has seemingly no redeeming features whatsoever. The audience get the sense from the beginning that these two are in for a rough ride, with Nat being annoyed at Josh for not emptying the bin, leaving the loo lid up, not working and so on. All of these issues make her character appear trivial and even in the film’s resolution it’s difficult to warm to her at all.
I Give It a Year hasn’t reinvented the British rom-com but it’s definitely a start. What it lacks in heart is made up for in comedy. Hopefully someone will take this formula, add a bit of romance in there and they’re set for a winning combination.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★