“When I first saw her beaver… ing away… ey? Yeah?”
Hyped as the ‘funniest British film of the year’, sporting a what-looks-like a great all-round British cast (judging from the trailer) and written by Dan Mazer who had a hand in Sacha Baron Cohen hits Borat, Brüno and the Ali G francise; I Give It A Year seemed like a must-see box office smash ready to wipe the floor with previous Brit rom-coms such as Bridget Jones, Love Actually and Notting Hill, unfortunately, the film lacked the likability factor and thus went downhill from there onwards. I liked Rose Byrne about 3 years ago when she played Aldous Snow’s on and off lover Jackie Q in the hilarious Get Him To The Greek but since then she has become so overexposed, appearing in what seems like dozens of films (but probably isn’t) that she is becoming much like a what once was juicy apple left to rot and dried out in the most undignified way in the harsh sunlight of tropical summer, in this film this is evident and becomes a strain to watch her plod through each scene. To sum it up, much like my quote picked from Merchant’s wedding speech the film finds itself more funny than the audience (the ones with taste) do.
From the cast list (and trailers) I became excited not si much for the main roles taken by Rafe Spall and Rose Byrne but the supporting roles by the more British ‘cult’ actors if you will, maybe half hoping that they will get some sort of break into more films in the future if this had some success. From the trailer I was highly enticed to see this film upon the promise of lanky Bristolian and once-upon-a-time ‘Ogg-monster’ Stephen Merchant (who over the last few years has seemed to step away from the infamous comedy shadow of Ricky Gervais and ventured the big bold film world alone, grabbing any opportunities in films with both hands and literally playing the same role over and over and over and over again). Merchant’s part in the trailer is obviously a selling point for the film and he is by far (once again) the funniest thing in this film, however, the trailer is highly misleading and tends to make you believe he plays a major role when he doesn’t, literally every clip we see of him in the trailer is his role in the film in its entirety. Now, I’ve watched films just because I’ve known he’d be in them, in fact I believe I have probably seen everything he has been in, from Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace through to Tooth Fairy and even Hall Pass where once again the British trailer highly prioritised his role knowing it would be a sell to fans of British comedy and even though he was in the film for around 5 minutes in total and supplied the best humour in that five minutes (3-minutes of this being a hilarious end sequence to the film) I just always end up feeling cheated. Anyway, I shan’t complain more about Smerch’s disappointing amount of appearances, instead I’ll move on to the underuse of Olivia Colman, Minnie Driver and Jason Flemyng. Each of these characters seemed more developed and as if they had more to offer to the film despite their almost minuscule parts in the film I probably laughed more at these characters than the main four, that can’t be right? Surely?
I Give It A Year started off on a strong foot (Smerch being used straight away to brilliant comic effect) however the tone of the humour soon fades when you find out both Spall’s and Byrne’s characters are hugely flawed and are incredibly hard to get along with as the viewer. I found it hard to find any redeeming features about either one of the leads who start the film as just getting married and being loved up but after literally a week of marriage stray from one another and pursue affairs with people they believe to be ‘more suited to themselves’ – this begs the question of what is the point of this film.
You have to give it to most British rom-coms, they have morals in the right places, characters may begin to stray from who they are destined to be with in the film but never go as far as to just as a random example… I dunno… push a rugged American into a random doorway on a London street and proceed to tell them to ‘just rip it off’ (referring to her clothes). In this respect Rafe Spall becomes the more likeable character as the innocent and fluffy funny geek who hides his feelings as to not hurt his wife but does still have a cheeky (but cute) kiss with Anna Faris while they shop for sexy underwear for Byrne together… yes… going to shop for sexy underwear for wife… with ex-girlfriend you fancy… and get her to try on the underwear first… seems like a great idea! But then, I suppose at least he was making some kind of effort unlike that slut Byrne who was taking her wedding ring off every 10-minutes for Mr. American TV-Star Simon Baker (The Mentalist).
I can get the idea of it’s trying to ‘turn the genre on its head’ but that term in itself is becoming so cliched that thinking about it, ‘turning a genre on its head’ would more likely be to do something the good old fashioned way. This story was way too predictable from the off-set and while I wanted Rafe to split from Byrne and get with loveable Anna Faris I didn’t want Byrne to get her just desserts at the same time… as harsh as that sounds her character has so many flaws it’s hard to find a single endearing trait in her hollow character.
If this is ‘the best for years’ as the trailers and tag-lines say something is seriously a miss. True, there are funny moments that do make you grin but I ended up yawning more than smiling especially once you learn you are lumbered with these main four characters for the entirety of the film and you have to try and force yourself to find something to like about them.
This is a film you have on as background noise in a year or so when it comes onto LoveFilm Instant or Netflix or one of your new-fangled gadget mcthingys and not something you want to pay for. It is a standard run-of-the-mill British rom-com that never comes to life the only thing you can be glad about is that it doesn’t prolong itself and really knows the time just to give up and hang itself to go to film hell.