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I Give it a Year (2013)

Magnolia Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/22/2013

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/22/2013

I've written before about what a scam proclamations like ďFrom the Producers of...Ē or ďFrom the Studio which brought you...Ē are. The fact that the same producers are involved can, granted, hold a little promise, but the involvement of the same studio can have little to nothing to do with the content or quality of the film. My opinions about these advertising tactics does not mean that Iím immune to them. When I saw that I Give it a Year was from a producer who had been involved with the likes of Love Actually, About a Boy, and Notting Hill, I was intrigued, as Iím a sucker for that kind of subversive British romantic comedy. Even if it was half as good as those movies, it would be a treat. OK, Iíve learned my lesson.

Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) meet, and after a whirlwind romance, decide to get married, despite the fact that their friends and relatives feel that they are rushing into it. It doesnít take the couple long to see that they may not be compatible after all. They dislike each otherís friends and parents. Nat is a Type-A career oriented person, while Josh is a writer who canít seem to make any progress on his second novel. Nat finds herself attracted to Guy (Simon Baker), an important client. Josh begins to think about Chloe (Anna Faris), an ex-girlfriend who has returned to London after being overseas doing charity work for several years. Realizing that they have problems, the couple seeks therapy and then decides that they must make it through their first year of marriage. But, can such opposites remain attracted to one another?

Instead of paying attention to the producer credit and the interesting cast, apparently I should have been looking more closely at the other credits. Writer/Director Dan Mazer has worked with Sacha Baron Cohen on Borat, Bruno, and other projects and he's attempted to bring that brand of cringe-worthy humor to a romantic-comedy. This is not necessarily a bad idea, and in the beginning, it sort of works. Stephen Merchant (who has spent so much time with Ricky Gervais that he now sounds just like him), who plays one of Josh's friends, gives a profanity-laden and tawdry speech at the reception, and this produces a few laughs. But, we soon realize that every scene is going to be filled with awkward or uncomfortable moments, many of which don't work. The scene where Josh is attempting to hide some lascivious honeymoon photos from Nat's parents borders on being funny, but the section where Josh is embarrassed to be buying lingerie is not only shockingly unoriginal, but it seems to go on and on. The movie is meant to be about the tension between the central couple (more on that in a moment), and it makes sense to want to transfer some of that tension to the viewer. However, creating one torturous scene after another is no way to win an audience.

And neither is filling the film with unlikable characters. I Give it a Year certainly isn't the first movie to feature a couple whose marriage is on the rocks, but I'm hard-pressed to remember one where I didn't care about either side. Nat hides the fact that she's married from Guy, while Josh spends his time thinking about Chloe. So, why did they get married in the first place? We don't know, as the movie essentially begins with their wedding. So, basically from the outset, we're stuck watching two people who are on the verge of having affairs...and we simply don't care if they go through with it or not. When a movie immediately throws morals out the window, it's difficult to fully interface with it. The supporting characters aren't much better. Minnie Driver and Jason Flemying appear as a couple who are always bickering and Merchant's lecherous character quickly wears out his welcome.

British comedies have made a name for themselves by deftly being able to juggle serious topics and laugh-out-loud comedy. (Look no further than Love Actually for a great example of this.) One would think that they could juggle a failing marriage and laughs. However, Mazer has no idea where to take the movie. It's decidedly bitter and cynical, but it's not dark like War of the Roses. However, the awkward tone sucks the comedy out of most scenes, and the humor promised by the trailer is nowhere to be found. The oddest thing is that the film's message seems to be that it's OK to take a mulligan on your first marriage. I Give it a Year -- you won't want to give it five minutes.

I Give it a Year makes you wonder if the doves in England have a Union on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Magnolia Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The image is never soft and the depth is acceptable. This isn't a spectacular transfer -- it's what we would expect from an HD transfer of a new movie. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are subtle, but they do show good separation. The crowd scenes and the wedding produce noticeable surround sound effects. Other than the score, I didn't note any bass effects.

The I Give it a Year Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with "Making of I Give it a Year: Relationships & Marriages" (3 minutes) gives a very brief overview of the film and contains quick quotes from the cast and the director who describe the story and the characters. "Making of I Give it a Year: The Characters" (3 minutes) brings us many clips and more comments from the actors telling us who they play in the film. "Cast and Crew Interviews" (28 minutes) brings us more moments with Byrne, Faris, Spall, Baker, Minnie Driver, Jason Flemyng, Stephen Merchant, Writer & Director Dan Mazer and Producedr Kris Thykier. "International Interviews" (31 minutes) delivers talks with Byrne, Spall, Baker, and Mazer. The Disc contains seven DELETED/EXTENDED SCENES which run about 15 minutes. This offers more glimpses of what Nat and Josh were like just after their wedding and some of Chloe's attempts at relationships. "Outtakes: The Doves" (3 minutes) focuses on the challenges involved with a certain scene in the film. The final extra is a 7-minute BLOOPER REEL.

Review Copyright 2013 by Mike Long