Having co-written the Ali G, Borat and Bruno movies, you wouldn't expect that Dan Mazer would make his directorial debut with, of all things, a self-penned rom-com timed for the Valentine's market. But, despite his disappointments with the genre as a punter (brother, you'll never sulk in the dark alone), here he is growing up a bit, getting the sauce-to-slush ratio right and turning in a fun, leave-your-emotional-baggage-in-the-foyer date movie. Lads, you can release the velvet rope from your death grip and walk calmly to your seat for this one.
After a whirlwind romance, Josh (Spall) and Nat (Byrne) tie the knot - and the bets are already on at the ceremony about how long they'll last. He's a writer stuck on his second novel; she's a highly successful PR executive who, in her own words, has decided on a Volvo when she could've had a Ferrari. Complicating matters are Chloe (Faris), the ex Josh never actually split up with, and Guy (Baker), a new moneybags client of Nat's who, oddly enough, isn't a complete tosser. Are the 12 months of the title a bit too optimistic?
As fans of his hidden Channel 4 treasure Pete Versus Life will tell you, Spall has great comic timing; for I Give It A Year he gets plenty of quality gags from Mazer and does his leading man credentials the power of good. Feeling like he's glued a TV series together, Mazer both celebrates and sends up the rom-com, makes sure that the characters' humiliation is of the hide-under-your-seat variety and, unlike many a suitor, doesn't use up all his best material in the first 15 minutes. Of course, we could've predicted that Stephen Merchant would almost steal the show as the best-friend-from-hell, but who knew that Anna Faris could have a career in dramatic roles ahead of her, or Minnie Driver one in comedy? What's next? Sacha Baron Cohen in a Michael Haneke movie?
The ending is rushed and while Baker never gets any joke as funny as the fact that he stars in a TV series called The Mentalist, you'd actually be willing to see these characters again. Mazer has joked about a sequel called I Give It Nine Months - time to get writing.