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May 28, 2017

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'I Give It a Year' gives you many laughs

Does happily-ever-after marriage have a good ring to it? Apparently it does with Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) in "I Give It a Year;" so much so that they rush into a marriage fueled by their honeymoon bliss of a relationship. Quickly, problems, which they were blind to before, start to bubble up, and they slowly start to realize how fundamentally incompatible they are.

In the standard boy-meets-girl modus operandi of a romantic comedy, the protagonists, Josh, a sloppy struggling novelist, and Nat, a high-maintenance ambitious advertising executive, meet in a New Year's Eve party. Their relationship progresses rapidly to their wedding in a nostalgic succession of picture-clicking shots. Where this movie starts is where most rom-coms end and scroll to the credits — the fairy-tale white wedding. Fast-forward nine months and the couple, who were previously head-over-heels in love, are seeing an idiosyncratically inappropriate counselor (Olivia Colman), who is in a disaster of a marriage herself.

Contrary to most recent movies of the same genre, this one does not suffer from the template of overly beautified scenes of falling in love: no locked googly-eyed stares blasted with flowery orchestral music and no cheap clichéd dialogues of "I love you." You know a rom-com is genuinely good if you're not stifling your laughter because the whole cinema is bursting out laughing along with you on several occasions.

"I Give It a Year" dances with the brilliance of British humor; frequently funny, witty and with just the right amount of awkwardness sprinkled in for flavor while spicing it up with vulgar talents.

"For-in-acation," starts off Josh's insufferable best man Danny, played by Stephen Merchant, "I'll read that again, for an occasion, I want to make sure I keep up the traditions of being a best man. Apparently I need to get the groom to the church on time, tick; I need to remember the rings, did that; and I need to have sex with the bride's maids, wee,"

With what sometimes seems like distastefully Ricky Gervais-ian offbeat and risqué humor, courtesy of Merchant, some audiences who are unfamiliar with this genre of humor may cringe a tad too much.

Director Dan Mazer focuses on the comedy more than the romance, turning the conventions audiences would expect into something different. It's not the happily-ever-after romance he's after, but the imperfection of realistic relationships, which are cruelly charmed away from their marriage to the sexy Simon Baker for Nat or the Anna Faris old flame for Josh. A quarter of the way into the movie, you'll see shadows of your own relationships or situations that remind you fondly (or painfully) of your previous relationships. Clearly Mazer hasn't glorified on-screen love, but instead reflected the real side of relationships and marriage.

In this era of unimpressive rom-coms, audiences can give "I Give It a Year" a chance to make them laugh. It promises awkward threesomes, obscene charades and body-piercing party jokes, all of which are effortlessly hilarious.

Even though the storyline is predictable and the ending is roughly wrapped up, the comedy is still original. And when it all comes down to what's important, "I Give It a Year" really does make you laugh. ■

'I Give It a Year ' (一年之癢) ► Directed by Dan Mazer / With Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall and Alex Macquee / Comedy / 2013 / UK / 97 min. /English with Chinese Subtitles / Now Showing / ★★★★☆

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