Leap Year

Movie Information

The Story: A young woman pursues her boyfriend to Ireland to propose to him, but fate and a charming Irish pub owner intervene -- with a lot of help from a by-the-numbers script. The Lowdown: Stylish filmmaking and charismatic leads can't keep this leaden and predictable movie from sinking pretty fast.
Score:

Genre: Romcom Remedial 101
Director: Anand Tucker (When Did You Last See Your Father?)
Starring: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott, Noel O'Donovan, John Lithgow
Rated: PG

Leap Year has got some pretty stylish direction (helped no end by the scenery). It’s got Amy Adams’ considerable charm, which blends nicely with the lesser—but still notable—charm of Matthew Goode. Unfortunately, it also has a script by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont that’s the kind of script that normally comes festooned with the names of a half-dozen or more writers; it’s the kind of bad that usually requires a committee to attain. I hope producers take note of this. They can hire Kaplan and Elfont to write this sort of film by themselves, and save time and money—two things producers understand.

Adams stars as Anna, who has been waiting four years for her somewhat weasely cardiologist boyfriend, Jeremy (Adam Scott, Step Brothers), to propose. Just when she thinks he’s going to, he gives her a pair of diamond earrings and jets off to Dublin for a nonspecific medical convention. Enter a drunken (possibly understandably, and I can’t blame him) John Lithgow as Anna’s professional Irish-American dad to spout some blarney about joining Jeremy in Dublin and following the old Irish custom of the woman doing the proposing on leap year. Having set the plot in motion, Lithgow beats a hasty retreat (probably to cash his check) and Anna flies to Ireland—only she ends up in Cardiff, Wales, owing to bad weather, the requirements of the script and to pad things out. From here, of course, she has to somehow get to Ireland and then to Dublin.

Getting to Ireland isn’t an issue. Getting to Dublin, however, requires much comedic palaver with the faux-eccentric locals. Anna ends up paying a fairly steep fee for hunky pub owner Declan (Goode) to drive her there in his “classic” Renault 4. Said car lands in a river early on, so just why Declan continues to squire her to Dublin is never clear—except there’d be no rom for the com if he didn’t. Of course, they hate each other. Then they get to know each other and they don’t. Then they fall in love. And after that? If you can’t answer that question, then go see Leap Year. It will seem fresh to you and you’ll get at least 80 years worth of romantic comedy tropes in one sitting. If you can answer that question, chances are you weren’t planning on seeing this anyway.

OK, so it isn’t actually painful, just mildly tedious. The fair-sized crowd I saw it with on Sunday afternoon didn’t throw things, but I can’t say they laughed much either. The pretty pictures and the leads probably kept them lulled in a passive state. That seems the most likely explanation. Rated PG for sensuality and language.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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