I Give It a Year review (Blu-ray)

Very early in this romantic comedy, during an "hilarious" best man speech by Merchant, I began to experience a slight churning of my bowels. The feeling persisted. In fact, it grew so severe over the following 90 minutes that I suspected I had contracted the norovirus, or perhaps cholera. Either of these afflictions would have provided more comic potential than this catastrophic attempt to take the cinematic stylings of Richard Curtis and Judd Apatow and cram then into a mincer.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Shall I run through the plot for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t seen the trailer? Well, okay then. Following a whirlwind romance, Spall and Byrne's characters get married despite it being plainly obvious to everyone but them that they are completely unsuited to one another, being as they are diametrically opposed lazy stereotypes. She is the uptight, anal, fashion-conscious, career-motivated female archetype. He is the slovenly, creative, care-free, dishevelled male archetype. He has a best friend of such staggering awfulness it is hard to believe he isn’t being kept in a top-level biological containment facility (that’s Merchant). She has a sister (Driver) in an apparent loveless marriage to a stolidly decent bloke who fits the "castrating harridan" mould. Gradually realising that getting hitched might not have been the best idea, she meets a rich American dreamboat industrialist (Baker) and pretends to be single. Of course, this must be mirrored so he has a cute American hippie chick former girlfriend still in love with him (Faris).

Should I go on? Spoilers don’t really apply to this movie; you can probably plot it from here on the back of a napkin. What do you think; will it end with a sudden race against time to some kind of transport hub? Well I am not going to give it away, but of course it bloody does. Sheesh, there once was a time when romantic comedy meant films like It Happened One Night, Adam’s Rib or Roman Holiday. Now it’s this toxic mush, a film in which absolutely nothing surprising happens at any point to anyone.

Which would be forgivable if it were funny, but despite coming from writer-director Mazer, who has a long history of working with Sacha Baron Coen on films such as Borat, Bruno (and *cough* Ali G Indahouse) this is like having your funny bone slapped with a wet rotting fish: cold, nauseating and carrying a somewhat unpleasant odour. There are many spectacularly unfunny set pieces but I would point to Merchant’s graphically horrible best man speech and a toe-curling tantric threesome involving Faris as particular low points. Also, a question for female readers: do they let you try on the underwear in Agent Provocateur without a merkin?

Despite a talented cast, this is a supermarket value-burger of a picture – insubstantial, full of sawdust, unsatisfying and very possibly containing a horse’s arse.

EXTRAS ★★ An audio commentary with writer-director Mazer, star Spall and producer Kris Thykier; deleted scenes; a blooper reel; Outtakes From Scene 59; the featurette I Give It a Year (2:55); the featurette Meet The Characters (3:19).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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