Nat (Rose Byrne – Bridesmaids) and Josh (Rafe Spall – Life Of Pi) have had a whirlwind romance that has resulted in a very quick marriage just months after meeting. Their family and friends aren’t convinced that they will last longer than a year but when they both meet people more suited to their individual personalities; it becomes clear that initial attraction may not be enough to keep a marriage alive.
I Give It A Year should have been an easy win for writer/director Dan Mazer, whose previous credits include Borat, Bruno and Ali G Indahouse. Instead it manages to turn the classic British rom-com into a forgettable shell of a movie that has no real soul to it.
The basic requirement of any rom-com should be for the audience to champion the characters. This just doesn’t happen in I Give It A Year – no one is particularly likeable and you’ll find it completely implausible that Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall would ever get into a position of marriage in the first place.
After a bright start that promises much, Rafe Spall turns into a complete idiot – something that makes it impossible to back him. I do feel sorry for Spall as he clearly has talent but this just wasn’t the right role for him. Rose Byrne ends up having to hold this film together (like she frequently does) and is easily the best thing in the movie. She deserves a lot better; the talented actress has an impressive CV to date so hopefully this will just be a minor blip in her burgeoning career.
Anna Faris is also good but her character just isn’t given enough to do here – and asking us to believe she is meant to be a bit dowdy and unattractive is just ridiculous. Simon Baker does well as a swish American who is obviously perfect for Rose Byrne but again, deserved more from the story other than being a token villain.
The supporting cast are also a mixed bag with Stephen Merchant just playing himself yet again. It may raise some laughs but is ultimately forgettable. Jason Flemyng and lantern-jawed Minnie Driver are supposed to play a bickering couple who secretly do love each other but they forget the love part of that equation and only seem to rubbish the notion of true love. Even the usually-reliable Olivia Colman is relegated to a cameo that’s more about shouting expletives than genuine situation comedy.
The saddest thing about I Give It A Year is that it has the nucleus to be a great romantic comedy. I imagine this looked good on paper but somehow the magic just isn’t here. Some script tweaking could have done this the world of good. But the film forgets the number one rule of the genre and never engages its audience so all you are left with are a series of skits based around crude jokes with a faint love story struggling to get noticed. It’s a real shame as I wanted to love I Give It A Year but instead, the films best feature ends up being its location – but then London always looks great in rom-coms.