Newlywed couple Nat and Josh are deliriously happy despite their differences, though friends and family aren’t convinced that they can last. With their first anniversary approaching and attractive alternatives in the mix, can they last?
I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. When they’re done right, they can be magical. I loved “Notting Hill.” It was fun and it was perfectly cast. Both Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts were believable and engaging and a joy to watch. I could buy that the world’s biggest movie star falls for a simple bookshop owner and even with huge obstacles lining up in front of them, love conquers all. Hugh Grant has charisma and screen presence. He plays the average guy so effectively that we always root for him because, well, he’s the average guy. In “I Give it a Year”, we don’t have Hugh Grant, instead, we have Rafe Spall who plays Josh, a lazy, down-on-his-luck author who is working on his latest book and suffering from writer’s block. He is married to Nat (Rose Byrne) an uptight ad agency exec and as the movie opens, they are both in marriage counseling, nine months after tying the knot trying to find out what went wrong. We find Josh’s ex, Chloe (Anna Faris) back in town and dashing American businessman Guy (Simon Baker) trying to pursue Nat.
I really wanted to root for Josh. In the beginning he comes across as likeable and dorky and in many regards, the average guy but as the movie unfolds, he becomes obnoxious and at times, just plain annoying. His best friend Danny (Stephen Merchant) is, in essence, the comedic relief but here’s the thing, he’s not funny. From his cringe-worthy best man speech to, well, pretty much every scene he’s in, he’s either being very inappropriate or insulting everyone around him and I just wanted to reach into the TV screen and pull him out of the movie and hope that no one else would notice. Simon Baker is fine as Guy who falls head over heels for Nat the first time he meets her but he is never given anything much to do except look handsome, something I’m sure he could do in his sleep. I kept expecting Anna Faris to turn into Cindy, her “Scary Movie” alter-ego but it was refreshing to see her play her character straight-laced, although a scene involving her in a very awkward threesome was probably the best and funniest scene in the movie.
The supporting cast does well, especially Minnie Driver and Jason Flemyng as a feuding married couple who use a game of charades to belittle and degrade one another. The problem I found with “I Give it a Year,” is that we are introduced to the two main characters and they are not very likeable. Nat flirts with Guy in order to gain his business and conceals her wedding ring in the process while Josh asks Chloe to try on some sexy lingerie in an S&M store so he can tell whether it’s a right fit for Nat for her Birthday. By the end of the film, we’re left with a twist that’s supposed to be uplifting but is so far-fetched, I realized that I had never really cared about the characters in the first place. There was no chemistry between Josh and Nat and that’s a huge must, especially in a romantic comedy. I do give kudos to director Dan Mazer for holding on to the conventional while trying to shape it into something new but if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
Available on Blu-ray & DVD October 22nd