It is often said the first year of marriage is the most difficult: when a couple discovers the quirks, flaws, and bad habits that may have been cute at first but grating later. I Give It a Year follows British couple Nat (Rose Byrne), a motivated marketing professional, and Josh (Rafe Spall), a feckless but good-humored writer, struggling with their new life together.

The movie opens with their wedding and a brief montage of their whirlwind courtship (which we learn was a mere seven months). Josh addresses this in his wedding toast — although he admits they have not known each other long, he is sure that she is The One. Unfortunately, soon after we see Nat and Josh in couple’s therapy; it’s been a short nine months and things are already falling apart. Matters are exasperated when both bride and groom develop wandering eyes: Nat meets Guy, a dashing American businessman who is a potential client (Simon Baker), while Josh takes comfort in his ex-flame, Chloe (a frump-ified Anna Faris). Can the newlyweds survive a year?

There is something definitely intriguing about a movie that boasts the Working Title production name (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually) and Dan Mazer, the writer of Borat (Mazer has collaborated with Sacha Baron Cohen on multiple projects and I Give It a Year is his directorial debut). Instead of an innovative romantic comedy, we sadly get unlikable characters and a series of goofy set pieces that ultimately fizzles out faster than Nat and Josh’s marriage.

It is too bad because delving into a relationship after the fairy-tale wedding is an interesting concept. Often marriage on film is rushed and glamorized as the “happily ever after,” while true love perhaps could be better represented with the acceptance and compromise that come after. However, this particular couple and their shallow relationship are boring. Their marital “problems” include leaving the toilet seat up and dealing with in-laws. If these are divorce-threatening issues, then marriage as we know it is doomed.

The problem is that we never fully understand what exactly drew them together in the first place, why they are right for each other, or why they are wrong for each other. This leaves us not really rooting for the couple to stick it out, but not rooting for a hookup with Guy and Chloe either. Guy is a little too slick, and Chloe too dull.


Rose Byrne’s other wacky marriage-themed movie, Bridesmaids, successfully combined raunchy comedy with heart and had an emotional core that I Give It a Year is lacking. It is too focused on the weird and wild comic situations and not enough on the chemistry between characters. Even with a large helping of crass humor, the movie feels over-long and tedious.

Despite the uneven narrative, there are some outlandish jokes and situations that provide a few chuckles. Chloe’s awkward attempt at a threesome is one of the movie’s highlights. It’s a shame the terrific Anna Faris is essentially wasted and not allowed to add more of her unique brand of humor to the rest of the film. Josh’s Best Man and wildly inappropriate wedding toaster, Danny, is hilariously played by Stephen Merchant (co-creator of Extras and the original Office television series). Also funny is Olivia Colman (Hot Fuzz) as the sour marriage counselor who has a few marital issues of her own. Minnie Driver is the sharpest here, playing Nat’s cynical sister, Naomi. She is confined to a small role, but her interaction with her husband (Jason Flemyng) provides one of the film’s rare charming moments.

Year does not present any fresh ideas about love or marriage. There are more insights about complicated relationships (and a lot more fun) in an Ally McBeal rerun. Witnessing a couple contemplating infidelity, especially so quickly and over minor annoyances like singing lyrics incorrectly, is frankly a little unsettling. It is difficult to find the humor in a character hiding her wedding ring in her purse in order to flirt.

It is admirable that it tries to turn the romantic comedy genre on its ear and has a few good gags; but although unconventional it is also unoriginal. Year attempts cleverness by being a sort of a rebellious anti-romantic comedy, but frustratingly ends up with many of the tired rom-com clichés anyway. The ending surely was meant to be lighthearted, but it goes beyond tasteless—it really just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I give it a year that this movie will largely be forgotten.