January 07, 2010

Leap Year

Grade: C –

Director: Anand Tucker

Starring: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, and Adam Scott

MPAA Rating: PG

Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Missing only a leprechaun jonesing for his Lucky Charms, the Irish-set Leap Year loops in as many lush landscapes and quirky archetypes as the Emerald Isle can bear. If it were a product of the country’s tourism board, the film would be a four-leaf clover. As a romantic-comedy, however, it’s cinematic stein of stale ale.

Dismayed that her cardiologist boyfriend, Jeremy (Adam Scott), hasn’t yet proposed marriage, Anna Brady (Amy Adams), a Boston-based apartment stager (a distinctive occupation that, naturally, figures nada in the film’s inert plot), Googles the supposed Irish custom that says women may propose to their reluctant beaus every four years on February 29.

Well, it just happens that Jeremy – who’d rather tend patients than his gal – is in Dublin for a medical conference on leap day. So, Anna packs her Louis Vuitton and strikes out for Ireland to pop the question herself. However, weather-related contrivances plant Anna somewhere along Ireland’s coast, a two days drive away from engagement.

So, Anna needs a ride into town. And, the town’s only courier is a handsome, boorish bar/innkeeper named Declan (Matthew Goode). And, Anna and Declan can’t stand to be in each other’s presence. You don’t need an itinerary to see where this story’s heading; the only hard part is figuring out why you chose to go along for the ride.

Director Anand Tucker (Shopgirl; Hilary and Jackie) has a grasp of visual style, but he buries his romantic plotline somewhere between stepping in cow pies and wringing chicken necks. Lame pratfalls and DOA yucks litter the comatose screenplay by go-to hacks Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont – their writing credits could fill the $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart. The film wants to emulate gender-bickering classics like It Happened One Night. Instead, it’s part of an odd trend of women’s pictures in which the smart, independent woman must get abased before she wises-up and hooks-up with the man of her dreams – who she usually met just 48 hours ago or so – and dump her otherwise innocent boyfriend.

Adams deserves better than slumming in some mindless January release. If only Leap Year were the sort of film that came ‘round as often as its namesake.

Neil Morris

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