J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, August 09, 2013

I Give it a Year: Marriage and Naughty Jokes

In a way, Josh and Nat are perfect for each, because it would be a crying shame if a healthy person were attached to such whiny, self-absorbed tools.  She is a hard-charging professional.  He is a slacker would-be novelist.  Despite their differences, they will knuckle down and try to power through the first 365 of their marriage in Dan Mazer’s I Give it a Year (trailer here), which opens today in New York.

In the opening montage viewers see how spectacularly cinematic their courtship was, helping us to suspend our disbelief these two could ever be a couple.  However, as soon as they day “I do,” everything else seems to say: “you shouldn’t have.”  Soon, Josh is pining for his former girlfriend Chloe, who is trying to make a go of the platonic best friend thing.  Meanwhile, Nat is swooning over her new rich American client, Guy.  The once happy couple will bicker like grumpy old men, while steadfastly denying their attraction to other people.  Yet, they soldier on, perhaps because so many of their friends and family never thought they would make.

Frankly, IGIAY would have been more fun if it had been less about Nat, Josh, and their respective rivals, focusing more on the folks in their calling circle.  Both Stephen Merchant and Minnie Driver supply the lion’s share of the laughs as Josh’s wildly inappropriate best friend Danny and Nat’s tart tongued sister. Their energy and sharp delivery are certainly welcomed, but it makes the blandness of the primary and secondary leads (the mix-and-match Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Anna Farris, and Simon Baker) all the more conspicuous.  Unfortunately, the same Olivia Colman who was so powerful in Broadchurch and Tyrannosaur is also terribly shticky as their ill-tempered marriage counselor.

IGIAY seems to think of itself as the British equivalent of Judd Apatow and Todd Phillips movies, freely blending rom-com elements with liberal samplings of naughty humor.  Unfortunately, the results play more like a collection of hand-me-down gags rather than parody or pastiche.  Awkward threesome sequence—it’s in there.

Oddly enough, the klutzy IGIAY bears surface similarities to Hsu Chao-jen’s elegantly mature Together, but it wilts in comparison.  The extended joke regarding explicit honeymoon pictures blatantly lifted from the Danish gross-out fest Klown hardly helps matters.  There are humorous moments here and there, but never without Merchant or Driver.  Not a good date movie for narrative reasons, I Give it a Year is best saved solely for mind-numbing Netflix streaming.  It opens today (8/9) in New York at the Landmark Sunshine.

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