I Give It a Year Blu-ray delivers stunningly beautiful video and great audio in this excellent Blu-ray release
Nine months after the wedding that all their friends thought wasn't such a great idea, Nat and Josh are beginning to wonder whether the naysayers were right after all. As they both agree to try and make a go of it, neither wanting to admit defeat, Nat begins to fall for the charms of Guy, one of her clients, while Josh realizes that he still has feelings for his ex, Chloe.
For more about I Give It a Year and the I Give It a Year Blu-ray release, see I Give It a Year Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on October 21, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
A romantic comedy from a writer and producer of Borat, Brüno and Da Ali G Show? Sounds
about as likely as a sensitive coming-of-age tale from the makers of Saw. But here it is, writer
Dan Mazer's directorial debut about what happens after the curtain comes down on happily ever
after and the blissful couple prepares to leave the altar. As they exchange their vows, the bride's
bitchy sister mutters, "I give it a year!"
Mazer has given the stale rom-com a kick in the rear by focusing on a couple that clearly, from
the very outset, does not belong together. They're both good people, but they're mismatched.
Where the usual formula has the audience yearning for the lovers to overcome all obstacles so
that they can eventually fall into each other's arms, Mazer has arranged matters so that you spend
most of his film praying that they'll take their marriage counselor's advice and just split up
Drawing on the credibility of his work with Sacha Baron Cohen, Mazer attracted the backing of
Working Title Films, which has been a comedy powerhouse for almost two decades, producing
everything from Four Weddings and a
Funeral to The Big Lebowski to
Hot Fuzz and The
World's End. The hilarity of the script attracted a sterling cast, including Stephen Merchant, the
towering (literally) co-creator of The Office and Extras, whose voice Mazer had specifically
imagined when he created the character of the groom's tactless best man, who gives a nightmare
wedding toast and then periodically reappears to say something cringeworthy. Merchant
enlivened production by doing his best to make everyone else crack up and ruin their takes,
because, as he says in an interview in the extras, why not have fun while making a comedy?
The same anarchic spirit is evident throughout I Give It a Year, which is edgier and more explicit
than most British comedies—a result many of the film's participants attribute to the influence of
Judd Apatow, though I doubt even Apatow would have imagined the humiliating threesome that
Mazer gleefully stages.
Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) meet at a party, have instant chemistry and are married
seven months later with a lavish outdoor reception under a gorgeous sky. The only sour notes are
the reverend's coughing and the awful speech by best man Danny (Merchant). The bride's evil-tongued sister, Naomi (Minnie Driver), manages to
restrain herself for one day, though her
customary mode is a constant stream of venom directed against everyone, including her own
downtrodden husband, a doctor named Hugh (Jason Flemying). (But if anyone challenged the
institution of marriage, Naomi would defend it to the death.) After a thrilling honeymoon of lust
and sightseeing—the photos are the basis of one of the film's squirmiest gags—Nat and Josh
return to London to start their life together.
And bump comes reality. Nine months later, the couple is sitting across a desk from a marriage
counselor (Oliva Colman) who is either the worst imaginable or possibly the most qualified,
given the state of her own marriage, of which Nat and Josh get a glimpse when she briefly leaves
the room to have a screaming cell phone argument with her husband. Flashbacks explain how
they arrived there.
In an all-too-familiar tale, the initial intensity of sexual chemistry concealed the very real
differences that emerged once Nat and Josh had to build a life together. A writer with one
published novel, Josh is struggling with his sophomore effort, including the usual woes of self-doubt and writer's block. He leads a shaggy, improvised
life, with a delight in the absurd and a
high tolerance for chaos. Nat, by contrast, holds an advertising job in an office and regulates her
life by schedules and routine. She needs her day and her surroundings to be tidy and organized,
and absurdity amuses her only in small doses, if at all. Before long, the quirks that each spouse
once found endearing in the other have transformed into daily irritations that build up to recurrent
arguments. And the sexual chemistry? Inert.
While Mazer pursues this through line, which, by itself, might be depressing, he buoys the film
with a stream of jokes from the supporting cast, but he does something even more clever by
smuggling in a rom-com cliche by the side door. Both Nat and Josh meet the people they should
have married—we can see it, even if they can't—and Mazer is smart enough not to make either
of them perfect. In Nat's case, he's a new advertising client, Guy Harrap, heir to a fortune in the
solvent business. (Yes, the solvent business, which is a joke in itself.) He's handsome, because
he's played by Simon Baker; he's genuine and has a sense of humor; and he's interested, because
Nat conceals that she's married (a colleague persuades her that flirting with him will help land
the account). But he's no suave smoothie when it comes to romance, and Guy's ill-conceived
efforts to woo Nat progress from parody to chaos, in a scene that not even the Marx Brothers
could have designed. No words of mine could possibly do it justice. Let's just say that live
animals are involved.
Josh's soul mate appears in the form of his former girlfriend, Chloe, an American who left him
years ago to do good deeds in the Third World and has suddenly reappeared in London working
with an AIDS relief organization. She's played by Anna Faris, whom I literally did not recognize
until I saw her name in the credits, because Faris is usually cast in clownish, two-dimensional
roles dominated by physical comedy. Here, though, she creates a credible and complex human
presence. Her Chloe is someone who is even more adventurous and less needful of structure than
Josh, but Faris conveys, with the simplest of means, Chloe's dawning sense that she's reached
the point in her life where she needs someone to take care of her just a little bit. Having missed
her chance with Josh, she's unsure where to turn.
So desperate do Nat and Josh become to "fix" their situations that they arrange an evening out for
the four of them (in a scene obviously borrowed from When Harry Met Sally . . .) where they try
to pair up Guy and Chloe. The results are not only unsuccessful, but they also sharpen the marital
conflict. Having listened to this saga (and, one suspects, not for the first time), the counselor
throws up her hands and gives them a practical goal: try to make it to their one-year anniversary
and see what happens next. With this blueprint before him, Mazer cheerfully ticks off a list of
further rom-com cliches (the last-minute proposal; the hot pursuit to the train station, airport or
bus depot; the sudden change of heart; the "I can't believe you were there all the time"
realization), but he spins them until they're dizzy, then knocks them to the floor. He even gives
everyone a happy ending, except perhaps Stephen Merchant's Danny, who probably wouldn't
recognize a happy ending except in a massage parlor.
I Give It a Year was shot on the Arri Alexa by Ben Davis, whose impressive credits include
Layer Cake, Kick-Ass and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Whether through on-set lighting or
digital post-production, Davis has married (if you'll forgive the term) the Alexa's noted ability to
capture a film-like image with the advantages of digital acquisition to recreate the delicate
textures and hues of a traditional romantic film within a realistic contemporary setting, all of
which makes the eruption of comic mayhem that much funnier.
Magnolia Home Entertainment's 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray was presumably sourced from
digital files, because the image has retained all the sharpness, clarity and detail that one expects
from a digitally originated production. The blacks in key night scenes are suitably dark, and the
colors in the many and varied locales, including clubs, restaurants and the floor of Simon's
factory, are distinctive and appropriately saturated. The detail is so good that one can make out
lots of prurient detail in Nat's and Josh's honeymoon photos when they show up at an
inopportune moment. ("That's doggy style", Josh adds helpfully, not that the viewer needs any
Magnolia is consistently reliable in not aiming for the tightest possible compression, even with
digitally originated material that would probably compress with less risk of artifacts. The average
bitrate of 29.28 Mbps is generous for this non-action movie. Other studios could take a lesson
(not that I would Image-ine myself Warner-ing anyone in particular).
The film's original 5.1 soundtrack is presented in lossless DTS-HD MA. Like many comedies, I
Give It a Year has a front-oriented mix with the emphasis on dialogue, although there are various
scenes where the environmental ambiance helps establish the mood (e.g., the wedding, an official
function where Josh accompanies Nat, Nat's tour of Guy's factory and various restaurant scenes).
Every so often director Mazer will add an extra wallop to a specific sound for comic effect; an
example occurs during Guy's first meeting with Nat when he pounds on the table, and Guy's ill-fated effort to impress Nat with a romantic display has
many such sounds, most of them
The alternately sweet and frenetic score is by the versatile Ilan Eshkeri, also a veteran of Layer
Cake and Kick-Ass, as well as Ralph Fiennes' exceptional filmed adaptation of Coriolanus.
Blooper Reel (1080p; 1.78:1; 7:17): Keeping a straight face during comedy is hard.
Outtakes: The Doves (1080p; 1.78:1; 3:07): Working with live animals and a terrified
actress can produce interesting results. As director Mazer says, she knew it was in the
script, but somehow failed to mention she was mortally afraid of birds.
Deleted/Extended Scenes (1080p; 1.78:1; 15:22): There are seven scenes, but they are
not separately listed. All of them are funny, but by far the most outrageous is Nat's and
Josh's wedding night.
Making of I Give It a Year: Relationships & Marriages (1080p; 1.78:1; 3:03): A short
EPK focusing on the film's subject matter.
Making of I Give It a Year: The Characters (1080p; 1.78:1; 3:29): An alternate EPK
focusing on the individual characters.
Cast and Crew Interviews (1080p; 1.78:1): Though divided into two groups, the
interviews are wide-ranging, though sometimes a little choppy, because the questions
from the off-screen interviewers have been edited out.
Rose Byrne (Nat) (2:28)
Anna Faris (Chloe) (2:45)
Rafe Spall (Josh) (3:57)
Simon Baker (Guy) (3:27)
Minnie Driver (Naomi) (2:32)
Jason Flemying (Hugh) (2:00)
Stephen Merchant (Danny) (3:26)
Dan Mazer (writer & director) (3:10)
Kris Thykier (producer) (4:06)
International Interviews (1080p; 1.78:1)
Rose Byrne (Nat) (6:19)
Rafe Spall (Josh) (6:55)
Simon Baker (Guy) (11:07)
Dan Mazer (writer & director) (6:18)
Also from Magnolia Home Entertainment: The various trailers for I Give It a Year (red
band and green band) are not included, but the disc does offer trailers for Drinking
Buddies, Prince Avalanche, Syrup and Touchy Feely, as well as a promo for AXS TV.
These also play at startup, where they can be skipped with the chapter forward button.
BD-Live: As of this writing, attempting to access BD-Live gave the message "Check
back later for updates".
In their interviews, some of the cast and the film's producer—but not Mazer himself—make
fairly extravagant claims for the likely influence of I Give It a Year on future rom-coms and
British comedy in general. It's hubris to predict such things, but Mazer has made the funniest
film I've seen about marriage in years, because it's steeped in a genuine understanding of the
subject. (He insists that his own is happy.) No new film has made me laugh this hard or this often
since Knocked Up, perhaps because Mazer writes equally well
for both male and female
characters, and they both get as many laughs. Magnolia has assembled a first-rate Blu-ray with a
good selection of extras. Highly recommended.
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Magnolia Pictures has officially announced and detailed its upcoming Blu-ray release of Dan Mazer's romantic comedy I give it a Year (2013), starring Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Alex Macqueen, Minnie Driver, Jason Flemyng, and Anna Faris. The release will be available ...