I Give It a Year (2013)
★ / ★★★★
After getting to know one another for only seven months, Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) decide to get married despite major differences in their sense of humor, interests, and personalities. Nine months later, we see them in front of a marriage counselor—who appears rather indifferent to the couple’s struggle—discussing what has gone wrong and asking for advice on how to move forward together.
Only about fifteen minutes into the picture, an overpowering feeling of dread began to creep up my spine and eventually latched onto my brain. Though I tried to be optimistic that it would get better once the material’s wheels start to warm up and get rolling, the screenplay by writer-director Dan Mazer proves painfully conventional, desperate, and cringe-inducing.
Almost every scene involves trying too hard to get us to laugh. Because the supposed punchlines are so forced, from a horrendous speech by the best man (Stephen Merchant) to the manner in which the couple in question meeting or reconnecting with potential mates, we are forced to endure one awkwardly executed scene on top of another. I began to wonder if the film was at all shown to a test audience and, if so, who in their right minds gave the filmmakers positive reactions.
In addition, the would-be comedy in a crumbling marriage is supremely underwritten so the characters come off unbearably whiny. Though Byrne and Spall do what they can as a couple who clash in a passive-aggressive way, they are boring. Josh is supposed to be a writer, but not once did I feel that he was imaginative or passionate enough about his work. Instead, he is given the excuse of having writer’s block and so we see him on the couch.
When it comes to Nat, though she is supposed to be a smart and career-driven woman, we get the feeling that she has no idea what she wants. In some scenes, it feels like we are supposed to be disliking her because she has become so unhappy that she has opened herself up to seeing what another man (Simon Baker) can offer. On the flip side, it is supposed to be cute when Josh is the one wanting to be with another woman (Anna Faris). The double standard is a great source of frustration.
One of the main problems is that although there is a proposed drama in the plot, the screenplay has no understanding whatsoever about how real people think, act, and react. We are not touched or moved when someone gets his or her feelings hurt. We may chuckle because there is a line uttered by a supporting character that is somewhat amusing, but there is no reward for us to chew on. The mood is very sitcom-like—a proposed twelve-episode mid-season television show that gets cancelled after two episodes because no one has bothered to watch—for good reason.
“I Give It a Year” is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to relationship comedies. I like cast, especially Minnie Driver as a woman with a love-hate relationship with her husband, but there is nothing for them to work with here. The movie is a waste of time.