I Give it a Year is so obsessed with how clever it thinks it is that it completely sinks the romantic comedy pirate ship it sets forth to be. Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) fall in love in the most clichéd movie way via a montage. Before you can say “I feel like I’ve seen this all before” the happy couple are suffering through an awkward wedding complete with all the trademark comedic trimmings of such an event: strange parents, odd priests and the cringe worthy speech from the best man (Stephen Merchant). What’s clearly obvious within the first five minutes of I Give it a Year drags on for another 90 plus minutes and it’s happily never after. There are a patchwork of sketches designed to deconstruct life after the ‘meet-cute’ that seems like a pretty good place to position in a film against the juggernaut of most Hollywood rom-com offerings. Writer/director Dan Mazer somehow manages to miss the opportunity. There are a few funny but crude moments including an awkward attempt at a three-way and a few honeymoon photos on a digital photo frame on display in front of the in-laws. Mazer knows how to frame each moment for comedic effect but there is nothing driving the film forward to warrant enduring the plight of a mismatched couple.
The characters are a deplorable group of people who all revel in a hatred of each other and the commitment they’ve made in marriage. The idea of “they’re married but they’re at each other’s throats” might sound like a knee slapping good idea in a comedy about a couple, but it grows weary quickly as everyone seems to be in the same fractured relationship. The script tries to justify that it’s acceptable to hate the person you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life with because it’s a way of dealing with their flaws and therefore that’s what real love is. The problem is that despite the sentiment, Mazer quickly highlights that infidelity and separation is also a good exit strategy if you still can’t deal with those flaws, so much for real love. The quandary of Nat and Josh is so painful that this reviewer was drafting the divorce papers on the back of a ticket stub and willing it to be absorbed into the film so they could sign it and the film would be done.
On the path to the bleeding obvious conclusion there are scenes where characters are running in the rain to their loved ones and giving speeches in front of relatives that have that special anti-rom-com flourish. To say this film is a farce is to imply that it’s an extravagantly entertaining situation when it’s clearly not. To say this film is a satire is to imply that it reveals the ugly truth about marriage, but the truth is as clear from the outset and there is nothing to reveal that we don’t already know. The mean spirited nature of I Give it a Year means it there is not an inkling of interest in who these characters end up with or whether they find happiness. All that matters is the quickest route to the exit and setting a new land speed record in the process.
Cameron Williams - follow Cam on Twitter here: @popcornjunkies