I Give it a Year (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/02/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Watchable British comedy, enlivened by strong performances from a talented comic cast, though it's not quite as funny as it thinks it is and some of the gags fall painfully flat.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Dan Mazer (a frequent collaborator with Sacha Baron Cohen), I Give It A Year presents itself as an anti-romcom and stars Rafe Spall as novelist Josh, who marries advertising whizz Nat (Rose Byrne) after a whirlwind romance, causing Nat's cynical sister (Minnie Driver) to remark ‘I give it a year’ at their wedding. The film then follows Nat and Josh throughout their first year of marriage, with both of them wondering if they did the right thing. This isn't helped by Nat being charmed by a wealthy American business client (Simon Baker) and Josh still harbouring feelings for his eco-warrior ex-girlfriend (Anna Faris).

The Good
Rafe Spall makes a likeable leading man in the not-exactly-Hugh-Grant mould; he has great comic timing and a put-upon air that serves him well. Rose Byrne is equally good as Nat, though she's saddled with a slightly less sympathetic character, while Faris is reliably amusing and Baker brings a welcome layer of charm and warmth to a character that's traditionally written as the bad guy in this sort of thing.

In addition, there's terrific support from a strong comic cast that includes Minnie Driver (wonderful, hilarious and comfortably the funniest thing in the film), Stephen Merchant (not straying remotely far from his comic persona and consequently seeming a little out of place) and Olivia Colman, who's typically brilliant as Josh and Nat's stressed-out marriage counsellor.

The Bad
Towards the end of the film there's a very clever and amusing sequence which obviously served as the germ of the idea for the film, since it's clear that the entire movie has been reverse-written to arrive at that point. To that end, the film deserves praise for sticking to its guns and not copping out the way most romcoms inevitably do (the ‘romantic rival’ in most romcoms invariably gets short shrift, for example).

The main problem is that the film isn't quite as funny as it thinks it is and only a small handful of the set-pieces (such as a scene involving a digital photo frame) generate actual laughs. On top of that, Merchant's character never really rings true (in real life he'd be swiftly punched in the face during his Best Man's speech, for example) and there are several moments that seem forced and fail to convince.

Worth seeing?
I Give It A Year has its moments and the likeable performances ensure that it's never less than watchable, but it's also never quite as funny as you want it to be.

Film Trailer

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Content updated: 23/07/2018 01:03

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