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I Give It a Year Blu-ray Review

I Give It a Year (2013) movie poster I Give It a Year

US Theatrical Release: August 9, 2013 / Running Time: 97 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Dan Mazer

Cast: Rose Byrne (Natasha "Nat" Redfearn/Moss), Anna Faris (Chloe), Rafe Spall (Josh Moss), Simon Baker (Guy Harrop), Minnie Driver (Naomi), Jason Flemyng (Hugh), Stephen Merchant (Danny), Jane Asher (Diana), Daisy Haggard (Helen), Terence Harvey (Alec), Clare Higgins (Elaine), Kerry Howard (Clare), Tim Key (Alan), Nigel Planer (Brian), Alex MacQueen (Minister), Olivia Colman (Linda), Djalenga Scott (Alexandra), Joseph Millson (Charlie)

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I Give It a Year aims to subvert the romantic comedy formula. It opens with our lead characters' wedding,
a ceremony more cringeworthy than tender, and proceeds to jump around the couple's challenging first year of marriage.

Novelist Josh Moss (Rafe Spall) and PR agent Nat Redfearn (Rose Byrne) are wed seven months after meeting. At the church service, Nat's sister (Minnie Driver) utters the titular line. She knows something about marital longevity, having long been married to a doctor (Jason Flemyng) she can't stand.

Sure enough, cracks soon begin forming in Josh and Nat's happy union. She is surprised to learn that he never officially broke up with his American ex, Chloe (Anna Faris), a kind but frumpy charity worker. Other small issues also begin adding up. Josh is annoyed that Nat sings the wrong lyrics to songs. Nat is annoyed to be regularly asked if Josh needs to wear a coat. The garbage doesn't get taken out. The toilet seat doesn't get put down. Neither gets along with the other's family.

"I Give It a Year" opens with the happy wedding of Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) and proceeds to document their challenging first year of matrimony.

Nine months in, Josh and Nat are in counseling, where their seemingly unreliable therapist (Olivia Colman) advises them to put in extra effort and stick it out until their first anniversary. Meanwhile, the couple flirts with temptation: Josh with Chloe, who he's never completely gotten over, and Nat with Guy Harrop (Simon Baker), an American solvents magnate she's working with.

Written and directed by Sacha Baron Cohen vet Dan Mazer (Borat, Brüno, "Da Ali G Show"), this British production is as unpredictable as romcoms get. Josh and Nat's is no storybook romance and you're genuinely left guessing whether they'll work it out or render the titular prediction accurate. Close observation reveals the clues that point to a satisfying resolution, but you can't be sure in this genre.

The film is closely modeled after American counterparts, resembling everything from the inane bottom rung entries to the Judd Apatow variety. It's closer to the latter with its well-earned R rating, crude dialogue, and seemingly improvised bits. The international cast is uniformly game for the material and up to the film's accent challenges. Perhaps a Brit could tell that Byrne is actually Australian, but the Yankee accent by her fellow Aussie Baker invites no doubt from my American ears.

Josh and Nat set up their respective tempting love interests, Americans Chloe (Anna Faris) and Guy (Simon Baker).

Spall, who bears the faintest resemblance to his father Timothy of Harry Potter and other big movie fame, does not hold back in one of his first lead roles (which still has him settle for third billing). Baker's charm is sure to please the fanbase he's cultivated on CBS' "The Mentalist." Another bright spot in the cast is Stephen Merchant
as the imbecilic Best Man who manages to offend every time he opens his mouth. Meanwhile, it's nice to see Driver, who has been somewhat scarce on film since her too brief brush with Hollywood stardom, make something fun of a potentially thankless supporting role.

Though virtually its every departure from the most typical and uninspired American romcom hallmark is agreeable, I Give It a Year still fails to add up to anything remarkable or terribly enjoyable. It's a bit sharper, funnier, more original and less hackneyed than your run of the mill effort, but it's still a romantic comedy relying on airport dashes, new covers of old pop songs, and gags that are more outrageous than clever (e.g. an awkward, superfluous threesome scene you're surprised didn't get cut). As the UK's take on an American institution, it seems to narrowly get a pass, but viewers on either side of the Atlantic Ocean aren't likely to consider it anything more than a mild diversion.

After a strong showing in the United Kingdom and various parts of Europe last winter and spring, I Give It a Year received a blink-and-miss release in just six North American theaters in August. It's now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment.

I Give It a Year Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: October 22, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($26.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

I Give It a Year sports nice photography uncommon for the genre, which makes the Blu-ray's strong 2.40:1 transfer easy to appreciate. The cinematic digital picture is vibrant and sharp throughout. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is suitable as well, posing no challenges for the straightforward mix. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are kindly included.

Rafe Spall's pool cue preparations cause the cast to lose it in the blooper reel. Rose Byrne is on edge while filming a scene with live doves.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The all-HD extras begin with a blooper reel (7:17) that expectedly leans heavily on Stephen Merchant and features plenty of take-ruining laughs.

"Outtakes: The Doves" (3:07) shows us the laughs and screams that flowed from a terrified Rose Byrne filming a scene with Simon Baker and a couple of live doves.

Seven deleted/extended scenes run 15 minutes and 22 seconds. They include an awkward consummation attempt, a struggle for shelf space ten days into the wedding, Chloe discovering her date is gay and fending off her co-worker's workplace affection, Hugh (Jason Flemyng) giving some advice from experience, Josh calling out a joke thief, and a strained Ethiopian restaurant date between Chloe and Guy.

Ten days after being married, tension begins forming between Josh and Nat over drawer space and open bathroom doors in this deleted scene. Writer/director Dan Mazer opts for a starry bright green sweater for his international interview conducted by the poster whose Jason Flemyng has been cut for the home video cover.

Two making-of shorts designed to promote the UK theatrical release -- "Relationships & Marriages" (3:03) and "The Characters" (3:29) -- serve up comments from

writer/director Dan Mazer and the cast, clips, and critic quotes.

"Cast and Crew Interviews" (27:55) give us extended looks at the sessions sampled in the shorts, gathering thoughts from Rose Byrne, Anna Faris, Rafe Spall, Simon Baker, Minnie Driver, Jason Flemyng, Stephen Merchant, Dan Mazer and producer Kris Thykier. Longer "International Interviews" (30:40), conducted in front of a poster for the film, are provided by Byrne, Spall, Baker and Mazer. In both, remarks on characters, comedy, their careers and collaborators are nothing groundbreaking, but give us some insight into production and everyone's involvement.

Finally, "Also from Magnolia Home Entertainment" repeats what plays at disc insertion: trailers for Drinking Buddies, Prince Avalanche, Syrup, and Touchy Feely, plus a promo for AXS TV. I Give It a Year's own trailer is perplexingly absent.

Though one of the increasingly rare discs to include a BD-Live section these days, all this one currently says is to "Check Back for More Updates"

The menu plays clips in between appearances made by the cover art, while a bluesy rendering of "Canon in D" plays. The disc gives you the chance to resume unfinished playback and also allows you to place bookmarks on the film.

No inserts, reverse side artwork, or slipcover enlivens the plain blue keepcase, whose disc art reproduces the cover, which itself has only served to drop Jason Flemyng from the North American one-sheet.

The unhappy union of Hugh (Jason Flemyng) and Naomi (Minnie Driver) gets peripheral attention. As Danny the Best Man, Stephen Merchant has no shortage of inappropriate comments in each of his three scenes.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The UK's I Give It a Year is comparable to American romantic comedies, but a bit edgier, more caustic, and less predictable than most. None of that makes it funnier than or fundamentally different from lesser entries in this typically uncreative genre. Still, this is a nicely shot and relatively painless outing. Magnolia's Blu-ray sports fine picture and sound plus high quantity and decent quality bonus features.

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Related Reviews:
New: All Is Bright • Stuck In Love • Clear History • The Way, Way Back • We're the Millers
Written by Dan Mazer: Brüno • Escape from Planet Earth
Rafe Spall: Hot Fuzz | Anna Faris: The Dictator • Movie 43 • Take Me Home Tonight • Mama's Boy • Yogi Bear
Rose Byrne: X-Men: First Class • Knowing • 28 Weeks Later • Insidious | Minnie Driver: Grosse Pointe Blank • Ella Enchanted
Stephen Merchant: Life's Too Short: Season 1 • Run Fatboy Run • Hall Pass • Cemtery Junction
Four Weddings and a Funeral • Going the Distance • Life Is Sweet • Knocked Up • Celeste & Jesse Forever

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Reviewed November 13, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 Magnolia Pictures, Studio Canal, Working Title, Anton Capital Entertainment, Starcrossed Films, Paradis Films, TF1 Films, LoveFilm, and Magnolia Home Entertainment.
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