Tag Archives: bridesmaids

“I Give It a Year” with Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall

i-give-it-a-yearNetflix, knowing me so well, has created a tab of British movies. I came across this one last night and, honestly, I had never heard of this movie. Was this released in the US? Google tells me it was released here last August, but I have no memory of a single commercial for it.  Anyway, I decided to watch it because a-it’s British, b-it’s set in London, c-Stephen Merchant is in it.

There are actually a lot of great actors in it: Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids) and Rafe Spall (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) play the newlyweds, Nan and Josh. i-give-it-a-year-movie-poster-11

They’ve only been dating for a few months when they get engaged, and then married. We don’t even really see them before their marriage, the movie starts with a sort of ‘first moments’ montage, and then the wedding is just finishing when we are really brought into the action.

Minnie Driver (who I love) plays that friend (who hates her husband as often as she loves him) that says ‘I give it a year’.

The action switches back and forth from the first moments of their marriage (disasters aplenty–the minister comes down with a hideous cough just as he is about to announce them man and wife, and Stephen Merchant gives one of the most horrific best man speeches in human history) to many months later, when they are beginning couples therapy with the worst therapist in the world (Olivia Colman).

There are little quibbles they have with each other. Josh is too lazy to take out the trash, so he ‘compacts’ it, so that he can wait a few more days without taking it out. Nan persistently sings incorrect lyrics to songs (We built this city on the wrong damn road, I travel the world in generic jeans, etc.)

Throughout that first year of marriage, the couple is orbited by two alternate choices. Chloe, played by Anna Faris in a bad wig, and Guy, played by Simon Baker:

I-Give-It-a-Year-Simon-Baker-and-Anna-FarisCan I just ask who came up with the names for these people? Josh and Chloe are normal enough, I suppose. But Nan and Guy? Sounds like they belong in a ’50s musical about an upcoming sock hop. But I digress.

Chloe is Josh’s ex, a relentless do-gooder with almost no other personality traits that I can remember. Guy is a business mogul who immediately develops a crush on Nan. This crush is fostered by the fact that Nan hides her wedding ring when she’s working with him.

Both Josh and Nan slip from focusing on their marriage and both come very close to an affair. But the couple are determined to make it through the first year of marriage, because someone told them that ‘if you can make it through the first year, you can make it through anything’. Josh doesn’t correct Nan when she sings the wrong lyrics, and he takes out the trash when he should.

And they do, they make it to the exact anniversary of their wedding.

And then, that very night, they split up. They are so glad to be rid of this marriage that they’re almost ecstatic to get a divorce. They both run off to find their other, better matches. And these two separate new couples ride off into the proverbial sunset.

And here’s my big problem with this movie.  It’s not that it’s a bad movie, or even particularly inaccurate about the trials and tribulations of living with one person as your partner in life.  My boyfriend bites his fingernails, and it drives me completely insane. He is also guilty of the trash smushing maneuver. He’s kind enough not to point out my annoying habits, but I’m certain there are many–like me constantly asking him not to bite his fingernails, I would guess…

This movie tries to show how marriage does not always end in ‘happily ever after’. It shows you what happens after the fairy tale wedding, when reality hits.  Okay, good, I’m in favor of that.  But, in the end, when Josh and Nan break up and immediately form relationships with other people, the implication is that if you do match up with the right person, then ‘happily ever after’ is almost guaranteed. Every relationship in real life is more like Nan and Josh’s than the fairytale relationships Nan and Guy or Josh and Chloe will have.  It really irritated me to end the movie with just a simple swap and everything is fine. They haven’t learned anything, except that they’re not right for each other?  And Chloe and Guy are pretty lacking in personality. They just wait for the other two to come around and want to be with them. And then, easy peasy, they do a swap and everyone is happy and everything will be perfect from now on.

In the end, the good acting almost saved this movie for me, but since the very end was the most disappointing, it left a bad taste in my mouth.  I wish I’d liked it more, because I like everyone in it. All the hype about it being from the same producers who made Notting Hill and Love Actually...it is nothing like those movies.

Also, I found this very strange French poster for it, i-give-it-a-year-1where the translated title is English Marriage.  Apparently the French have different problems in the first year of marriage?  Maybe there was no similar idiom in the French, and they don’t cynically predict a couple’s demise while still celebrating their creation. But if I was going to predict which country is not cynical enough for something, the French would not be my choice. And why is only one of the umbrellas the Union Jack? So many questions for whomever changes DVD posters for foreign releases..

Family Tree

Family TreeChristopher Guest’s quirky show, starring Chris O’Dowd, premiered in May on HBO. The season finale was this month. The show will appear on BBC Two this summer. No word yet on a second season, but I’m hopeful!

First of all, if you’re not familiar with Christopher Guest‘s work, you should be.  Do yourself a favor and see at least two of the following: A Mighty Wind, Best in Show, This is Spinal Tap, and The Princess Bride.  Okay, in The Princess Bride, he was only acting and not one of the creators, but you should still see it if you haven’t yet.  It’s a great movie.  I think it’s important to be familiar with Guest’s work and its inherent eccentricities. Otherwise you might spend your time wondering why one of the main characters of this show spends all of her time with a foul-mouthed monkey puppet on her hand.

monkey and christopher guestBut if you know Christopher Guest’s work, then you don’t worry about that and you just enjoy yourself.

Quirky, eccentric, peculiar, etc. How many synonyms can I go through in this review? Let’s get it out of the way now: everyone in this show is utterly strange.  Chris O’Dowd’s character, Tom Chadwick, is the only reasonably normal one in a long list.  His sister, Bea, is the aforementioned puppeteer.  His best friend Pete works at the zoo and …I haven’t a clue how to describe him. Not terribly bright, for starters.  Fond of strange hats.  Inappropriate in almost every situation.

pete-stupples-1024His father has a Moldovan second wife and a penchant for terrible ’70s British sitcoms.

He lives above a man who runs a ‘bit and bob shop’. In other news, I have a new career I’m working toward, if I can just get enough bits and bobs… In later episodes, Tom travels to America and meets an even stranger assortment of creatures. Ed Begley Jr. plays a libertarian conspiracy theorist, Carrie Aizley is his hippie wife who sells flavored enemas.

The show follows Tom, who has recently lost his job and his girlfriend, after he is given a trunk of old family heirlooms.  He proceeds to track his family line back several generations, for reasons only he seems to understand.  Nothing in his family history is particularly glamorous so far–his most notable ancestor was the back half of a pantomime horse.

The journey through the past is interesting, but really it’s just a vehicle to get Tom into the most ridiculous situations and conversations one can imagine.  There were Civil War reenactments, morjgm-b781130906z.120130621144503000g861ej272.2a visit to a Native American Reservation, farming in rural Derbyshire, and the tales of the best Jewish cowboy in silent movies.  I found myself watching with a mixture of incredulity and bemused giggles.  It’s always entertaining and surprising–very rare for TV shows, in my experience. Not everything is a ‘joke’ with a punchline and a rimshot, but the humor is more subtle and less forced.  I found Chris O’Dowd to be the funniest of the cast, but Monkey was my boyfriend’s favorite.

There are some really big stars on this show, mostly from other Guest movies. In addition to Chris O’Dowd (who is becoming quite famous after being in Bridesmaids and Girls), there are Ed Begley Jr, Michael McKean, Guest himself, and Fred Willard, plus other cameos.

I can see why this wouldn’t be the best show for some people.  In my mind, they’re the kind of people that really love Two and a Half Men, and don’t find TV shows with a laugh track annoying at all.  But for anyone who enjoys a Christopher Guest experience, this show does not disappoint.  Sometimes, I think there are too many characters without enough to do in any given episode, but for the most part the large cast is balanced quite well.  The main three characters (Tom, Bea, Pete) are all very fleshed out and loveable. I really hope they give it at least one more season, as I want to see what happens next.

 

TV Review: The IT Crowd, Seasons 1-2

I started watching this with my boyfriend because he is a big computer nerd and heard good things about it  I was unsure at first, because there is a ludicrous laugh track and I hate those on any show.  Technically it’s filmed in front of a studio audience, so it’s not a laugh track but is actual laughter.  Regardless, I hate it.  But, just like with other shows, I have eventually gotten used to it.  Still, I must say I do not comprehend why a laugh track is ever necessary, or why shows should be filmed in front of a studio audience.  What is this, 1950?

Sorry, that was a slight digression.   Anyway!  Sometimes I dislike shows like this because they aren’t…the humor isn’t surprising.  Sometimes I can predict the exact punchline in sitcoms, and I find them less funny because a large part of humor is the unexpected.  The point is that once I got about 5 or 6 episodes into the show, I found myself laughing hysterically at every episode.  The humor isn’t always surprising, but it is all done extremely well.  A lot of what is brilliant about this show is the comedic timing.

The show revolves around two computer nerds in the IT department of a large corporation in London, who get a new manager with zero technological knowledge.

Roy, on the right, is played by Chris O’Dowd, who got pretty famous last year as the Irish cop from Bridesmaids. He plays your typical slacker type, complete with nerdy t-shirts, a bad attitude at work, and general snarkiness.  At the beginning of the show, I imagined he would be my favorite character. This was before I knew how amazing Moss was.

Jen, the girl, is their new tech un-savvy manager, also known as a ‘normal’. She is disappointed to end up in the creepy basement with the creepy nerds.  She thinks she belongs up on the higher floors, where the pretty, successful people are.  Jen is obviously necessary for the show, and she can be quite funny, but she’s just not as interesting to me as the other two.

Then there’s Moss, on the left.  Played by Richard Ayoade, whose name will become more familiar soon, I think.  He directed a movie last year, Submarine, which is supposed to be a really good coming-of-age type film.  I’ve put it on my queue.  Later this year, he is starring in Neighborhood Watch with Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, and Vince Vaughn.  The film has been pushed back because of the bad associations with the Trayvon Martin case in the news, but I think it is still coming out later this year.  Or maybe they have just pushed back the marketing side of things, I’m not sure.  News sources are a bit vague on what is going to happen in the next few months.  Anyway, I am hoping it will be pretty funny because, and let me be clear on this, this dude deserves to be really famous and really successful.  He is hilarious.  Moss is your typical complete and utter computer nerd.  Very few social skills.  Very few life skills, if it comes to that.  Ultimate example: He accidentally sets the office on fire and then emails the fire department.

The seasons of the show are short, so we watched seasons 1 and 2 in just a manner of days.  They’re both only 6 episodes long.  And now that I’m loving this show so much…I learn that they are not doing another season. Argh.  Season 4 ended last year, I think, and they are doing a special sometime this year, but then that’s it.

Anyway, back to my review! No more tangents.  This isn’t the sort of show with a real plot, so much so that you can watch most of the episodes in the wrong order and it won’t make much difference.  Each one is a stand-alone, and once again this is not something  I really like in shows.  But this show does it so well and makes me laugh so much that it negates all my previous feelings about the traditional ‘sitcom’.

In some ways, it resembles Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, etc, because it features people who do one strange thing or tell a lie, and that forces them into stranger and stranger positions to hold up their original lie.  An example:  To avoid a bathroom at a theatre where there is one of those creepy attendants, Roy uses a handicapped bathroom.  He pulls on the cord to flush the toilet and then realizes that the cord is actually an emergency handle.  When stewards rush into the bathroom to help the handicapped person within, he lies on the floor and pretends to be disabled and that someone has stolen his wheelchair.  Moss, also to avoid a creepy bathroom attendant, uses a staff bathroom.  When someone catches him, he claims to be a staff member, and is put to work at the bar.  Here’s some bits from that episode, just the first 3 minutes of the clip.

Another incident involves Jen needing someone to pretend to be her husband to fool old classmates at a reunion.  Roy is busy on a date with someone he doesn’t care for, so she enlists Moss’ help.  Then Roy, wanting to get rid of his terrible date, turns up at the reunion claiming to be Jen’s lover, and the three of them have it out at the reunion in front of everyone.

I am not sure what about this show is so funny.  It has a lot of the qualities that I don’t like in a show, but it also has brilliant acting and timing that is unbeatable.  I find with a lot of British shows like this one, Black Books, and Spaced, I grow more fond of them as the seasons continue.  By the end, I love them, whereas my first impressions aren’t usually great.  So, if you give this one a try, give it at least three episodes to make you laugh.  If you don’t laugh by the point when Moss spreads a rumor throughout the office that Jen has died…then you’re not going to laugh at all.

At the rate I’m going, I expect to finish seasons 3-4 this weekend, so expect yet another blog post discussing the greatness of this show.