So crude and cliché, you’ll need a year to recover
I Give it a Year has been fairly well received in the English-speaking world, and that led me to await this romantically deconstructing romcom with some excitement. While I have my reservations about the male lead Spall (Pete Versus Life), his costar Byrne (Bridesmaids) is alright in my book, so I thought if nothing else, I Give It a Year might gratify some guilty pleasure centres in my brain.
But I was completely out of luck there. Although this feast of gross-out slapstick comedy avoids scenes of vomiting, urination or defecation – rather prim for its genre these days – I came away as disenchanted as if every scene were a variation on that theme.
Fleshing out what would be an innovative plotline by stringing together totally isolated, mechanically-acted screwball vignettes, the best thing one can say about the film’s believability is that the people who end up together at least deserve each other. For a mainstream comedy, that’s pretty tragic.
The audience meets the protagonists on their wedding day and follow them through their first year of marriage with its ups and downs – mostly downs. Ill-suited in every way imaginable, no wonder we’re soon steamrolled by painfully lame and less-than-humorous scenes of nuptials unravelling. Of course the characters meet other people, and of course the end is a Hugh Grant-esque crescendo through rush-hour London traffic, with five minutes to correct a terrible misunderstanding. Believe me, I haven’t spoiled a thing.
Now maybe my impatience with this film is a bit elitist and conservative. Different strokes for different folks, right? So let’s cut it some slack. There is at least something commendable about the film’s almost sustained (but not quite) omission of clichéd propaganda in favour of heterosexual love and marriage. What it features instead, however, are jokes charged with male sexism and wrapped in lines plumbing the filthy depths of the English language (the writer-director was a contributor to both Borat and Brüno).
I Give It a Year is like a mischievous child who hasn’t yet learned to tell a joke – so he decides to scream vulgarities at the top of his lungs instead.
I Give It A Year (15)
Dir: Dan Mazer; UK romcom, 2013, 97 mins,
Rose Byrne, Anna Faris, Rafe Spall, Simon Baker, Minnie Driver
Premiered April 11