Leap Year – Review


Watching it once every four years might be enough.

Chemistry is everything when it comes to romantic comedies. The right blend of personalities can do wonders to a corny story filled with illogical situations that stretch to 100 minutes. But the wrong kind of chemistry can be the death knell. Leap Year falls victim of having its oil-and-water characters spar against each other for way too long. We know in the end they’ll end up kissing, but the animosity between them runs so unrestrained, that when the romance does happen the passion is a moot point.

Amy Adams is Anna, the water in the romance. She’s a Boston native who works as a real-estate “stager.” Those are the persons who spruce up living rooms by adding furniture and little knickknacks to trick prospective buyers into thinking the open house is an “open home.” She has the perfect boyfriend, Jeremy (Adam Scott), who is a cardiologist. They’ve been together for four years. The marriage clock is ticking and Anna is hoping the alarm goes off sooner rather than later. When Jeremy gives her a pair of diamond stud earrings instead of a diamond-encrusted ring, she’s a little heartbroken. There’s no time to discuss what has transpired, because Jeremy has to fly to Dublin for a doctor’s conference. Listening to her father’s advice (John Lithgow in a one-scene role), Anna follows him. There’s an old Irish myth where on Leap Day a woman in Ireland can propose to a man. And it just so happens February 29 is less than a week away. So she books a flight so she can ask him for his hand in marriage. It’s too bad that Mother Earth had other intentions. Bad weather causes Anna to end up in a township that is far from Dublin. Thankfully, Declan (Matthew Goode), a pub owner/taxi-cab driver, offers to drive her to Dublin for a price. And so begins a road trip of Planes, Trains and Automobiles-like incidences only with better sex appeal.

Amy Adams who is generally likeable doesn’t have the material to go with her screen presence. This is the fault of the screenwriting pair of Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, who has given us such gems (sarcastic grin) as Made of Honor and Surviving Christmas, both of which seem to be invented during a game of Mad Libs. Her character comes across as stupid and shallow, and some of the choices she makes on her trip to Ireland aren’t the wisest – like failing to take both an umbrella and an extra pair of shoes in her carry-on luggage. The pair she has on throughout is open-toed, which goes well with the coat she’s wearing. The shoes are also a crux in many scenes of painfully bad physical humor. Just because Amy Adams has red hair does not mean she’s Lucille Ball. While Adams isn’t really phoning-in her performance, it comes off as one-note, just like her character in Julie & Julia.

On the other hand, Matthew Goode is surprisingly good given the circumstances. It’s easy to be detested by his character Declan, but he has enough Irish charm to win the audience (which will no doubt be populated by mothers and daughters) over. The way he’s nonchalant when throwing barbs towards Adams’ character is amusing, but again there’s too much sparring to really enjoy the payoff in the end. On an unrelated note, it’s nice that Goode has branched out from being Mandy Moore’s romantic interest in Chasing Liberty. He’s slowly building an acting repertoire having appeared in films like Match Point and Watchmen. However, starring in a romantic comedy may make casting directors rethink about hiring Hugh Grant as the leading man.

Leap Year adheres to the overdone formula of opposites attracting, but realistically Anna and Declan shouldn’t be a match made in Heaven. It only works because the characters are in or near each other’s company for most of the film’s duration. Though we’re not quite sure when and how the seed of romance is planted, we just buy into the fact that in the end Anna’s current boyfriend is the wrong choice and Declan is the man of, if not her dreams, at least the moment. There’s no “this is why because” explanation so the romance, like the film, is a disappointing one.

Director: Anand Tucker
Notable Cast: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott, John Lithgow
Writers: Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont

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