I Give it a Year

Posted: March 3, 2013 in Film reviews

Written and directed by Dan Mazer. Starring Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Simon Baker and Anna Faris.

A somewhat novel entry to the rom-com genre, this is a film that starts with the happy ever after, and then takes the story from there. ..

The film opens with the wedding of Josh (Spall) and Nat (Byrne). She’s an ad-executive, he’s an author, and they’ve known each other just seven months, so the wedding comes at the end of a whirlwind romance, some of which we see in snippets of flashback that paint a picture that wouldn’t look out of place in a more traditional rom-com. Given the two are a bit of an odd couple some people don’t give the marriage much of a chance, in fact at the wedding Nat’s sister (Minnie Driver) mutters the titular phrase; “I give it a year.”

All too soon it becomes apparent that Josh and Nat’s courtship might have been a bit too much of a whirlwind, as they discover they don’t know enough about each other, are slightly annoyed by each other’s quirks, and that living together proves harder than they might have imagined.

Things are further complicated by the presence of Josh’s ex-girlfriend (Faris) and a suave businessman (Baker) who has his eye on Nat. And a deranged marriage guidance counsellor doesn’t help matters either.

Will the course of true love run smooth, and will anyone notice that Stephen Merchant appears to be in a different film to everyone else?

Considering that, the premise aside, this is fairly predictable and familiar fare, what’s most surprising is how much I enjoyed it. Familiar tropes abound. Nat is posh and ever so slightly anal, Josh is a bit of a slob. Her parents are snooty and look down their noses at Josh, his parents are a little too laid back and overly familiar. Stephen Merchant plays Josh’s best friend, the kind of obnoxious best man who (thankfully) only really exists in romantic comedies. Baker plays a man who’s handsome, funny and also rich (heck I’d marry him) whilst Faris is the kind but frumpy girl next door. Throw in the fact that Josh leaves the toilet seat up and…well as you can see hardly ground breaking stuff.

And yet it pretty much works, which is down to a large part to the cast. Byrne (sporting a slightly too cut glass but still pretty good) English accent manages to take a character who could have been annoying and actually has you caring about her, and whilst Spall’s Josh is maybe a tad too annoying, he still comes across as likeable enough. Baker and Faris do what they do best, though neither role is much of a challenge. TV’s The Mentalist dials back the darker (and also more childlike) qualities of Patrick Jane to leave just the suave charming nice guy, whilst Faris can do kooky without raising a sweat. They all interact well together however, and whilst the film isn’t laugh out loud funny (this is no Bridesmaids) I laughed throughout and there are some very funny scenes (one involving some doves suggests that either Rose Byrne was genuinely terrified, or else should be seriously considered for an Oscar). Similarly the romance(s) never quite reach in and grab your heart (this is no Bridget Jones’ Diary) but it’s nice enough, and contrary to some reviews I’ve read, I actually found myself rooting for a happy ending.

I’ve seen better rom-coms, but I’ve also seen a lot more worse ones (Yes ‘Along Came Polly’ I am looking at you …). Olivia Coleman is funny as the marriage guidance counsellor, Driver does shrewishly well as the sister, and whilst Merchant could have been too much, thankfully his presence is minimised enough to ensure he actually stays just the right side of annoying and is actually funny.

Clearly it’s trying to be a Richard Curtis film (heck this is a working title production) but it isn’t anywhere near that good. Still, predictable and lightweight it may be, but it’s also funny and enjoyable.

I give it a slightly tentative thumbs up.

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