This year instead of going with familiar grand slams like Amelie or The Brass Teapot, I decided to try something out of my Netflix list of things I'd been meaning to check out. Thusly I decided upon I Give It A Year.
I have been a little more wary of British romcoms since watching Love, Actually (which I absolutely hated for a number of well-founded reasons) but what really made me want to watch this was the fact that Simon Baker plays a main character. I've loved Simon Baker since getting into The Mentalist, a CBS crime-drama which he plays the lead in. He's also the face of Givenchy's fragrance, "Gentlemen Only" and he's pretty gorgeous.
|You can thank Australia for that.|
I Give It A Year is a British romcom about a couple who experiences a whirlwind romance, culminating in their marriage-- and then kind of lolling about like a fish you're not sure is dead or alive. Natalie and Josh fell in love and really believed they could make it work, despite their friends and family quietly murmuring that they were too different. They kind of wrote it all off as the kind of stuff you could get over or grow to love, but around the six month mark they're starting to realize neither of them are as happy as they thought they would be.
I wouldn't say that this was the most challenging or revolutionary love story but I'll let them off the hook for that since it wasn't aiming that high to begin with. It's quite predictable but the execution of the hilarity is great. I do like the fact that this story isn't about two people finally finding each other, it's about them sort of coming to terms with their relationship and that all-too common egotistical belief that you'll just find a way. Despite what most other romcoms might tell you, you can totally be two good and decent people who were into each other and realize it's not a good long-term deal (kind of like Ron and Hermione). And that's okay as long as you don't drive each other to murder before you come to that conclusion. The movie doesn't make a huge fanfare about the relationship itself, its end, or the solution the the love woes of our heroes-- and you can read that as a failing and a videoessay in tone-deafness or a choice made to deliberately avoid making you feel like their love lives are these intense, all-enveloping shadows that engulf their respective worlds. I chose to think the latter, but I know some critics certainly didn't.
I think that the characters, for the most part, weren't written very strongly-- they were not characterized in such a way that you felt you truly understood and rooted for them. They were not complex, but I think the goal was to make them relatable enough that you didn't have to spend precious screen time getting to really know them. I would have liked more characterization since they all seem pretty interesting or at minimum worth exploration. I also found it pretty interesting that Anna Faris (of The House Bunny) actually played the frumpy dreamer given that I'm used to seeing her play blonde airheads (or voicing children).
The comedy is pretty adult-- I mean, it's from the writer of Borat-- but it is absolutely hilarious, particularly if you get on well with the slight differences in British humor (some of the comedic timing and delivery, for example, are a bit different). There are a few extremely inappropriate moments, including any and all moments involving the brother of the groom who opens the trailer, as well as some hilarious but graphic sexual scenes-- if you're a Judd Apatow fan, you'll probably love this movie. If you're a little squeamish about those things, I would avoid this movie. This is a lot more comedy than it is romance, and a lot of the comedy is based around kind of awkward dialogue and uncomfortable scenes that go on for longer than they need to. Some people will appreciate that kind of humor where others will most certainly not. It's not a terribly innovative or smart film but it is definitely entertaining.
Overall it was pretty good. Not a favorite movie (except maybe for Simon Baker's character) or even in the top 20, but very funny and worth the watch if you're into this kind of humor. For me, re-watch-ability is kind of low (once again except for the Simon Baker bits) but I think it was in general fun.
Harper's rating: 2.7 / 5
Simon Baker being beautiful, uncompromising humor, pretty relatable
Predictable and not totally creative, kind of uncomfortable depending on your sense of humor
I think while I had a good time watching this, I'm still going to hunt down something a bit deeper to sink my teeth into to fully satisfy that Valentine's Day craving.
Did you watch anything to celebrate the lovey-dovey season?