11 February 2013
I GIVE IT A YEAR- Review
Inverting the usual romcom structure, the wedding that would normally be a happy ending actually takes place at the beginning, as Nat and Josh tie the knot after just seven months of courting. As the title suggests, few people see the besotted, but mainly incompatible couple as a lasting thing. Within the first year alone, Josh tries to deal with an ex-girlfriend, with whom he never officially broke up, Nat is encouraged to flirt with a hunky American businessman at work, in order to secure a marketing deal, and the once happy couple struggle through marriage counselling sessions in an effort to save their relationship.
Tonally, there's not a lot here to differ from Working Title's back catalogue, which is strange, because the premise itself is an almost complete subversion of the formula that was popularised by Richard Curtis. However, the writer and director here is Dan Mazer, who previously worked on Brüno, so the script is proportionally more crass and cynical. Seeing a film that is consciously contrary to the Working Title romcom, working from that same book of tricks, is actually quite strange, and it un-sticks the crowd-pleasing composition that has done so well in the past.
They don't spend a whole lot of screen-time together either, as the film keeps an eye on international marketability by casting American actors Simon Baker and Anna Faris as alternative love interests to tempt each of the lead characters. The most you see Nat and Josh together are in a series of raucously funny counselling sessions, with Olivia Colman as a brilliantly abrasive therapist. They're not exactly clicking in these scenes, which is kind of the point, but the division makes what should be a quite clever finale into something more predictable, if your brain is properly engaged.
Still, there's no reason why a plausible take on romantic comedies should also be this crass. There are plenty of sex jokes, (including a number of inappropriate gags about paedophilia) to go around, but many of them fall flat. You can also see where the script left gaps for improvisation, and that's never more apparent than when Stephen Merchant holds court as Josh's fiendish best mate. Movie 43 is largely to blame, but Merchant is starting to stretch my patience now- he just sounds like that awkward impression of Ricky Gervais that everyone does, every time he's in a movie. Gervais is actually an underrated screenwriter, looking at the likes of Cemetery Junction, and you kind of wish for that kind of film, while being lashed by the cynicism of this one.
I Give It A Year is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen I Give It A Year, why not share your comments below?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.