There’s a lot of criticism that most romantic comedies just go by-the-book, presenting exactly the same story over and over again. So if a rom-com tries to do something a little different, it should be applauded. It’s just a shame that with I Give It A Year, it doesn’t really work.
As the marketing has been keen to tell us, I Give It A Year starts where other rom-coms end. After a whirlwind romance, Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rose Byrne) get married, even though many of their friends aren’t sure it’s a good match. It’s not long before the cracks begin to show, with the little niggles of their relationship becoming more and more difficult to take.
Nat then feels a spark with Guy (Simon Baker), a man she’s working with, while Josh realises that he still has feelings for an ex, Chloe (Anna Faris). Will the newlyweds stick with a marriage that doesn’t appear to be working, or will they realise they’d be better off with other people?
It’s an interesting idea to make a movie about a married couple who you’re supposed to feel shouldn’t be together, but it’s a tough thing to pull off. The problem in I Give It A Year is that while you do indeed start to think Nat and Josh aren’t right together, they’re so annoying it’s difficult to want them to be with anyone else either. The characterisation isn’t strong enough to pull it off, so that when the couple are finding each other’s tics frustrating, they simply come across as petty and as if anyone in a relationship with them would have to be very forgiving. Indeed there were moments I was thinking they should stay together just so nobody else has to deal with either of them.
That said, there are moments when what this film could have been shine through. Rafe Spall is cheeky, charming and amusingly dopey for chunks of the film, but then rather undermines it by becoming an ass (not his fault, it’s the script). Rose Byrne does her best English accent and puts in a lot of effort, but isn’t given a huge amount to work with. There’s also Stephen Merchant as Josh’s perennially inappropriate best friend Danny. Some will find him utterly hilarious, while others will feel he’s annoying and slightly implausible.
The likes of Minnie Driver, Jason Flemyng, Olivia Colman, Jane Asher and Nigel Planer show up, but they’re mainly window dressing.
Writer-director (and longtime Sasha Baron Cohen cohort) Dan Mazer does show promise with I Give It A Year, and there are sections where the movie works extremely well, but it’s too uneven and the characters aren’t strong enough to pull it off. There’s a reason why rom-coms always end with happily ever after, and it’s because no matter how much people complain about sentimentality, they like a happy ending, so if you’re going to play with that – especially if you want your own rather different happy ending – you have to be careful. For a start you need to be more than intermittently funny and you present a lot better characterisation than I Give It A Year offers.
There are a few special features, although things such as the Featurette feel more like a glorified trailer or intro to a ‘making of…’ than anything actually interesting. The bloopers and audio commentary are worth a look though.
I should note though that I’m still hoping Rafe Spall will become a big star, but he needs a better vehicle than this. He certainly put it all out there in I Give It A Year – if you wanna see his penis, buy a copy now – but it doesn’t quite work.
Overall Verdict: While the idea of a rom-com that starts when others end is a neat idea, making the lead characters more annoying than mismatched results in a movie that rather undermines itself and ends up with you wishing the leads stayed together just to prevent anyone else suffering the misery of dating them.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac