When the first trailer for I Give It a Year hit the web, not much was known about the film. It was just the UK trailer as it was being released there first. Just about every major movie news website wrote about the trailer due to utter hilariousness of it. Why this film did not have US distribution from the start is beyond me. To my surprise and delight, I Give It a Year was one of the selections at SXSW this year.
I Give It a Year comes from the mind of screenwriter and director Dan Mazer who is known best for his work with Sacha Baron Cohen on Da Ali G Show, Borat, Bruno, and The Dictator. Dan Mazer has managed to gather together a great cast and a hilarious story and make what I would call a rival to the popularity and word-of-mouth that caused Bridesmaids such a huge hit in the US. I Give It a Year is worlds beyond more funny than Bridesmaids, and with an interesting twist on the romantic comedy genre, it is more original.
Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall play Nat and Josh, a newly married couple who tied the knot after only dating for a few months. When you do not know your partner for long before you marry, you start to discover things about each other that the newness of love and marriage may have overlooked. This is exactly what happens to Nat and Josh. Josh’s lack of motivation and general goofiness starts to bother Nat. On the other hand, Josh finds that he still has feelings for his ex-girlfriend Chloe, played by Anna Faris. He also eventually picks up on Nat’s embarrassment, resentment, and annoyance about him. To further complicate things a new client arrives at Nat’s work who charms the pants off of her. That would be Guy, a charming, rich American played by Simon Baker.
This is the anti-romantic comedy or flipping the genre on its head as both Dan Mazer and Simon Baker described it. Rather than the audience rooting for two people to be together, the film finds the audience rooting for the couple to break up and end up with people better suited to them. There are not too many films where you find yourself saying, “These two just need to get a divorce.” It is a refreshing perspective on love and happiness. Sometimes you should just not be with the one you married. There is still plenty of romance in the film; it is just not toward the spouse.
The genre that this film excels at is comedy. I have not laughed this hard in a film in a very long time. I laughed more during I Give It a Year than Bridesmaids. The majority of the comedy comes from Rafe Spall who apparently was fine playing a kind of blubbering yet lovable idiot. He is the subject of most of the jokes. American audiences are probably most familiar with him from his roles in Prometheus and Life of Pi, both obviously not comedies. Spall is perfect for the role, probably game for just about anything Dan Mazer threw at him. He is perfectly cast. I hope to see him in more comedic roles in the future.
Rose Byrne partially got the role of Nat in I Give It a Year because of her work in Bridesmaids. She is great in this role, although she plays someone who is second hand to the jokes, not the source of them herself. The exception is the dove scene, which can be seen in the trailers for the film. Speaking to both Dan Mazer and Simon Baker, I learned that Rose Byrne was terrified of the birds, so what you see on the screen are her real reactions to being scared of these birds flying around the room.
There are plenty of scenes in this film that are poised to become classic scenes, much like the bridal store scene in Bridesmaids. The aforementioned dove scene, as well as the digital photo frame scene that involves Nat, Josh, and Nat’s parents and the charades scene involving Josh and Nat’s grandmother and is revisited at least a couple of times in the film. There is also a ménage a trois involving Anna Faris’ Chloe and a possible love interest that quickly develops into a ménage a deux without Chloe.
A source of great one-liners is Nat’s sister Naomi played by Minnie Driver. Already married and yet she seems to loath her doctor husband Hugh played by Jason Flemyng. She constantly calls him names regardless of whether he is in the room or not. Naomi also does not approve of Nat’s marriage to Josh. A welcome sight is Stephen Merchant playing Josh’s best friend who treads the line between being creepy and trying too hard to snag a date.
I Give It a Year is hands down one of the best comedies I have seen in years. It is a refreshing take on the romantic comedy that has a great and hilarious cast. It will be compared to Bridesmaids, as I have in this review, but I find I Give It a Year more original and comedic. Considering it is an English comedy, it is bound to be compared to Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral, those staple Hugh Grant films, but this film should stand alone. The film starts out with laughs and does not quit until the credits roll. Dan Mazer has created a comedic gem, a welcome change to the romantic comedies we are used to seeing.
Every other country seems to have already had this film released in their theatres. The US is still waiting. Magnolia Pictures picked up the distribution rights to the film in April, and the film will be released here on August 9, 2013.
I give I Give It a Year 4 “harmless doves” out of 5.
by Sarah Ksiazek