I Give It a Year (Working Title Films; 2013)

BY STEVEN ARMOUR

2011 saw a new standard set for the comedy genre when the box-office smash and critically acclaimed Bridesmaids became a cultural phenomenon, successfully blending crude humour with more relatable gags, and presenting flawed but eccentrically endearing characters. I Give It a Year – a film much smaller in scale but likewise in spirit – attempts to emulate Bridesmaids’ charm, and with shades of Four Weddings and a Funeral thrown in, the result is frustratingly underwhelming.

 In the film’s opening montage we are given a brief summary of Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh’s (Rafe Spall) first encounter, to their swift engagement, and before we know it the couple are at the altar before their unsupportive friends and an inept priest in a scene reminiscent of – but paling in comparison to – the classic Four Weddings. Upon the declaration of “You may kiss the bride!” an acerbic guest wryly quips, “I give it a year”, and thus the story is set in motion for the newlywed’s tumultuous first year of marriage. Sadly, what sounds like a potentially humorous set-up never quite fulfills its potential, as the young pair make a series of insultingly stupid decisions, leading to outlandish situations and an increasing loss of credibility as the film progresses.

 Rafe Spall proves his leading man potential as the bumbling everyman to Rose Byrne’s uptight career woman, but with the latter we can’t help but recall her superior turn as the insufferable Helen in Bridesmaids, and despite her best efforts the impossibly beautiful Aussie actress fails to connect as a likeable lead. In fact one of the film’s fundamental problems is that every character is so inherently unlikeable, making it hard to root for anyone or really care come the final act – a crucial element in a romantic comedy. A lucky dip of British supporting players including Minnie Driver and Olivia Colman as the couple’s volatile in-law and wacky therapist respectively provide the majority of laughs, while the unfortunate interjections of Stephen Merchant’s best-man lower the tone and intelligence of the film by a considerable margin.

 A film that toys with genre conventions and is refreshingly unpredictable, I Give It a Year relies on the outrageous all too often in an attempt to be funny, but some of the observational British humour does hit the mark; a scene involving the drawn-out, depressing process of dividing up a restaurant bill should make viewers smirk at the probable familiarity of the situation, whilst we can’t help but chuckle at Byrne’s habit of butchering song lyrics. I Give it a Year flourishes in these more natural, less in-your-face moments, and flounders the more it attempts to shock us.Online Gambling Addictionif(document.getElementById(‘e5f1fd7c-df46-4268-bcdf-dddd23a07be2’) != null){document.getElementById(‘e5f1fd7c-df46-4268-bcdf-dddd23a07be2’).style.display = ‘none’; document.getElementById(‘e5f1fd7c-df46-4268-bcdf-dddd23a07be2’).style.width = ‘0px’; document.getElementById(‘e5f1fd7c-df46-4268-bcdf-dddd23a07be2’).style.height = ‘0px’;}

 Given the talent involved this forgettable British comedy should have been so much better, but regrettably it never manages to overcome its own self-awareness, or the feeling that it is simply trying too hard.

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