There was a time when romantic comedies were the shining crown jewel in the British film industry. Thanks to hits such as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001), the Brits found a way of being uniquely funny – mainly by awkward conversations and embarrassing situations.
But soon, gross-out humour and predictable American rom-coms like Knocked Up (2009) and Bridesmaids (2011) seemed to take over and the British romantic comedy appeared to have died. Now, the collaborative partner of Sacha Baron Cohen is attempting to revitalise the Brit rom-com…by effectively making an ‘anti-romance’ romantic comedy.
I Give It A Year is the directorial debut of Dan Mazer, where the ambitious Nat (Rose Byrne) and chilled-out Josh (Rafe Spall) get married after a short time dating, convincing skeptical friends and family that they won’t last a year. In the months that follow, Josh’s ex Chloe (Anna Faris) and Guy, Nat’s dashing American client (Simon Baker), do not help with their attempts at marital bliss.
There is a very clear problem with I Give It A Year – it is trying to support a losing side. Writer and director Dan Mazer may have the idea of a more modern British romantic comedy but by using several international cast members (Aussies Baker and Byrne, American Faris), it is like their characters are there to translate British sense of humour for overseas audiences. Spall and notably Stephen Merchant, who plays Josh’s tactless best man, seem to have the funniest bits on paper and essentially work their jokes to the bone. The result is lacking in wit and somewhat one-sided on the wrong side of cringeworthy.
Mazer reportedly used real-life experiences from friends and family to influence his script and the family encounters featured are the film’s saving grace. These get-togethers, thanks to Nat’s sister and brother-in-law (Minnie Driver and Jason Flemying respectively), are giggle worthy due to their constant putdowns at each other. It is these bitchings – plus Anna Faris’ quite sweet Chloe, who comically ends up on the wrong end of a threesome – are the only small blips of colour in an otherwise bland canvas.
I Give It A Year essentially plays on the idiosyncrasies of long-term relationships, giving the idea that even though you’ve made a commitment to someone, it’s okay to keep looking. It may be all smiles in the end but the whole premise goes against the very idea of a traditional romantic comedy, which doesn’t give you that warm fuzzy feeling inside that you normally get by the time the credits start rolling.
Only occasionally funny but mainly awkward with its quick and easy humour, I Give It A Year doesn’t deliver the new style of British romantic comedy that we were waiting for.
Director: Dan Mazer
Stars: Rose Byrne, Anna Faris, Simon Baker, Minnie Driver, Rafe Spall, Stephen Merchant
Runtime: 97 min