Review: I Give It A Year

Written by: Derek Winnert

Dan Mazer, the man who wrote for Borat and Bruno for Sacha Baron Cohen, here makes his directorial debut and produces an expectedly sour taste.

In this dark, British anti-rom-com, you know from the start that the central duo aren’t going to end up in each other’s arms, so it’s just the formula in reverse, right? Well, fine. We’re all fed up with Hugh Grant, Bridget Jones and Love Actually, and this’ll do till something better or more original comes along.

Rafe Spall and Stephen Merchant in I Give It A Year

Rafe Spall and Stephen Merchant in I Give It A Year

I Give It A Year is certainly very funny in places, real laugh-out-loud stuff that got the cinema rocking. But, supremely confident as it is, there’s a sense of unease, and the weird thing is, it’s the dirty jokes that sink it. Real people don’t actually say this kind of stuff to each other; dialogue like this only happens in scripts. Mazer is able to deliver some enormous laughs but he doesn’t seem to have an ounce of charm anywhere in his vocabulary.

So, then. Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall get married. Stephen Merchant says some amusingly off-colour stuff as the best man. As predicted, the couple’s first year together soon starts to prove they weren’t made for each other. They visit a marriage counsellor (Olivia Colman shamelessly screen-hogging), but Byrne starts to fancy hunky Yank Simon Baker and Spall gets hot all over again when his cute old flame Anna Faris turn up.

Mazer gives the two stars plenty of rope to hang themselves with, though Spall emerges with lots of credit and laughs, while the charming Byrne is stuck with getting the boring, serious mooning to do. The film really seems to be on Spall’s side against Byrne.

On the support front, Mazer ensures that Baker and Faris have a couple of useless, unrewarding and unamusing roles, while giving Merchant and Minnie Driver (playing Byrne’s sister) plenty of laughs that they devour voraciously. Over the years, Minnie got seriously funny, and now you wish the film was about her.

And do we really want to hear Brit icon Jane Asher saying rude things and watching honeymoon sex snaps? It’s like Ronnie Corbett being outed as a coke snorter on Extras. No, no, no!

Author: Derek Winnert

Derek Winnert is a leading UK movie critic, film writer, author and editor. Read his Classic Movie Reviews at

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