Film review: I GIVE IT A YEAR, from Built For Speed

I Give It A Year is the latest film from the Working Title production company who redefined the British rom with movies like Love Actually and Notting Hill. This film, however, takes a noticeably different approach to the standard Working Title flick both in terms of comedy and romance.  Written and directed by Ali G alumnus Dan Mazer, the film has (or at least attempts) a more acerbic, envelope-pushing style of comedy than we might see in a Richard Curtis scripted movie.  Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t entirely gel with the film’s rom com formula and results in a strangely uneven movie.  Also, with its sexual frankness and uncomfortable view of relationships,   I Give It a Year seems closer to a Judd Apatow film than a Hugh Grant romantic fantasy.  Like Apatow’s This is 40, though, I Give it a Year doesn’t always seem to know where it’s going and isn’t as funny or romantic as it’s supposed to be.

I Give it a Year centres on the crumbling relationship of thirty-something couple Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) during their first year of marriage. After nine months together their once-endearing idiosyncrasies have become infuriating and their personalities seem completely incompatible.  Nat begins to think she might be better off with smug American money-bags wanker Guy (Simon Baker) while Josh wishes he had never ditched former girlfriend the sensitive charity worker Chloe (Anna Faris).

The filmmakers clearly thought this film was a lot funnier than it actually is as evidenced by the strange silences that follow many supposed gags where the audience were presumably meant to laugh.  There are sporadic funny moments, particularly when characters like Olivia Colman’s marriage counsellor throw psychotic tantrums but too many gags fall flat.  The film makers seemed to think that upping the sex gags and obscenity would make the film funnier but all the swearing and genitalia jokes in the world won’t make up for an absence of wit.

The film lacks charm and a romantic spark because, unlike the typical Working Title leads, Nat and Josh aren’t very endearing.  Rafe Spall’s Josh is an irritating git while Rose Byrne’s Nat is bitter, spiteful and flaky. Even though we’re meant to see the negative side of their personalities we also need to see a positive side to feel anything for them.  There’s simply no reason to care that their relationship is falling apart so the film lacks any emotional punch.  This also makes the film’s attempts at the warmer romantic scenes seem awkward and hollow.

I Give it a Year contains the typical supporting cast of quirky oddballs including Stephen Merchant as Josh’s tactless, goofball, idiot mate who’s basically a less likeable version of Merchant’s character in the TV show Extras.

A few amusing moments of Gervais-style cringe comedy just about get this film over the line but ultimately I Give it a Year  is a disappointment.

Nick’s rating: Two and a half stars.

Classification: M

Director(s): Dan Mazer

Release date: 28th Feb 2013

Running time: 97 mins.

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