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Bad Movie Tuesday: The Weirdness of I Give It A Year

November 5, 2013

I give it a year movie poster

I Give It A Year is a weird film. It wants to be a reverse romantic comedy (break up romantic comedy?) yet still features stock rom-com characters, readily available love interests and touching moments. It wants to be something different and features a whole lot of the same. So, you are left scratching your head as adultery, botched threesomes, and an airport ending unfolds in front of you.

The director/writer Dan Mazer worked with Sasha Baron Cohen on Bruno, Borat and Ali G. The Borat influence is clear in this film. Borat added naked fights with xenophobic cynicism to uncover American prejudice. It pushed buttons with guerrilla film making and it had a naturalism that hit the mainstream sweet spot.

Mazer has created a film that looks like a romantic comedy, features good-looking actors and follows all the familiar clichés. However, he spikes it with a couple who despise each other. Nothing about them is likable and the film works hard to give them nothing redeeming. This decision hurts the film because instead of supporting them they grate on your nerves. When the break up happens and they move on to their American soul mates you wonder how in the world they could ever be happy? I understand that 50% of marriages end in divorce and romantic comedies set a too high a bar (See Don Jon) but you need to have redeeming characters who don’t just blame the other person for the divorce.

The movie wants to be a cynical sidestep to the romantic comedy genre. However, it features every trope of the genre (They end up at an airport). Roger Ebert summed up the movie when he said:

“I Give It a Year” wants to be silly, and the performances are often extremely silly, but it also wants to be touching, and that is its fatal flaw. Sentiment has no business intruding in such a brutal comedy of manners.”

There is a lot of sentiment in this film. It makes for a very odd concoction of angry, gross and sweet. When the film gets sentimental you don’t care because the characters are so unlikable.

The cast is amazing but the writing make them all “movie characters” and plot devices. Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Anna Faris, Stephen Merchant, Minnie Driver, Simon Baker, Jason Flemying and Olivia Colman could all be leads in film. However, in this they are movie clichés in a movie that wanted to avoid clichés.

Writing this review was tough. I get what the director was going for but it came out wonky. He wanted to fight the romantic comedy juggernaut by making something different. However, what he made was a bad romantic comedy about a break-up.

Don’t watch I Give It A Year. If they make a sequel called “I Give It Two Years” watch that because Mazer will have the kinks worked out.

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