LEAP YEAR (2010)
Starring Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott, John Lithgow, Noel O’Donovan, Tony Rohr, Pat Laffan, Alan Devlin, Kaitlin Olson, John Lithgow, Maggie McCarthy, Peter O’Meara, Macdara O. Fatharta, Dominique McElligot and Ian McElhinney.
Written by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont.
Directed by Anand Tucker.
Distributed by Universal Pictures. 97 minutes. Rated PG.
It’s probably just as well that leap year only comes around once every four years. At least judging by the cinematic celebration of the day, as far as I can tell, leap year is mostly pleasant enough but utterly predictable and ultimately rather forgettable.
Amy Adams plays Anna, half of a Boston power couple (he is a cardiologist; she is a real estate “stager” – a woman who decorates homes for sale). They have been together for four years and just gotten their dream apartment together, however Anna can’t understand why her man still hasn’t popped the question.
She is reminded of an old Irish tradition in which women are supposed to propose marriage to men on leap year. This custom is related by her father (played by a totally wasted John Lithgow, who has one poorly written scene in which he is mostly shot from the back of the head.) She mocks the tradition to her estranged dad – we never really know why she seems to dislike him so much, though he is a little overly enthusiastic about everything.
Soon, however, she is Googling the tradition and soon after she is boring a priest on a plane to Ireland by prattling on about her love life. (Good thing she’s planning to marry a doctor, how much must a round trip to Dublin bought on the day of the flight cost???)
Of course, in these films, fate won’t let anything happen easily. Due to bad weather they can’t fly into Dublin and somehow, she ends up in a rustic Irish shanty town packed to the brim with eccentric Celtic sorts.
Amongst those sorts is Declan (Matthew Goode) – the owner of the local pub. He is quiet, cynical and roughly handsome. He is also in debt and liable to lose his pub, so he agrees to let her pay him to drive her to Dublin.
Immediately his laid-back Irish bemusement chafes against her driven perfectionism. As soon as you see how vehemently these two disagree about just about everything, you know that by the romantic comedy playbook it is inevitable that they will eventually fall madly in love.
Then the audience buckles up and waits for the long series of road trip obstacles to be placed in front of these two before the predictable ending – including car crashes, wild livestock, giant mud puddles, missed trains, bad cell phone reception, poor weather, people mistaking them for a couple, more and more quirky Irish folk and the reappearance of her snarky cardiologist boyfriend.
Essentially, you’ve seen it all before – in films like The MatchMaker, Laws of Attraction, Hear My Song and countless other rom coms set in and out of Ireland – and Leap Year has very little to add to the mix.
What it does have is a pair of very solid leads. Adams takes a surprisingly unsympathetic lead character and is able to make the audience relate to Anna completely by force of the actress’ innate charm. However, Goode is the one who really comes out of Leap Year in the best light – he has always been a little stiff in previous roles, but here he is light on his feet, charming and mysterious. You can understand why even a self-centered uptight sort like Anna would be drawn to him.
Amy Adams and Matthew Goode are both very likable and the Irish scenery is often stunning, but otherwise there are very few reasons to celebrate the arrival of Leap Year.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 17, 2010.