Adams should have lept past this dull 'Year'

Article Published: Jan. 14, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Adams should have lept past this dull 'Year'

"I've had enough of this movie." Amy Adams and Matthew Goode star in 'Leap Year.'

What is perhaps the most confusing note about Leap Year, a new romantic comedy starring Amy Adams, is that Universal Studios decided to release it this January (23 months after the last Feb. 29 and 25 months before the next). It's like releasing Independence Day in January or a Halloween film in March.

Then again, Leap Year would be just as bad with a logical release date as it is now. Primarily set in Ireland with some fantastic scenery, the film tells a boring, cliched and predictable tale of a woman who sets off to convince her rich doctor boyfriend to finally marry her but instead finds "something entirely different" in an Irish bartender who helps her travel across the country.
Anna (Amy Adams, Julie & Julia) is an upper-class real estate agent who has spent the last four years with Jeremy (Adam Scott, Step Brothers). Although Jeremy is smart, nice and a successful cardiologist, he has not yet popped the big question - and Anna is sick of waiting.

Her father (a quick cameo by John Lithgow) reminds her of the Irish tradition that allows a woman to propose to a man on Leap Day. Since Jeremy has to go to a conference in Dublin, Anna soon boards a flight so she can surprise him and propose.

The flight is grounded by bad weather, of course, and after a rough boat ride, Anna finds herself hours from Dublin. She then pays Declan (Matthew Goode, Watchmen) to drive her to Dublin - with a ton of predictable sit-com quality scenes along the way.

While very little in Leap Year makes sense (we'll get to this later), the film's biggest problem is that it's really boring. These characters aren't interesting, the plot isn't interesting and audiences have already seen 12 different versions of this story. The beautiful Irish scenery almost hurts the film, too, since such dull material is set in such vivid landscapes. There's a ton of potentially interesting side characters in Ireland, too, that are given predictable jokes to say and are otherwise completely ignored. I wonder if anyone involved in the production, surrounded by so many interesting people and places, wondered why they bothered crossing the ocean when they could have filmed something just as boring at home.

As the film played, I noticed several things that also work against it, partially because it violates the basic elements of the romantic comedy formula. For starters, Anna isn't likable - she's whiny and self-centered. Jeremy is a nice, caring and likable character (a big formulaic no-no) who appears to be crazy about Anna - he just doesn't seem to have the same beliefs regarding the actual institution of marriage as Anna. The issue probably could have been easily resolved if Anna just told the guy why getting married was so important to her instead of waiting anxiously for him to get around to it.

And seriously, in the age of equality between the sexes, why does Anna have to have a magical excuse to propose to Jeremy? Why can't she just do it because she wants to?
The romantic tension between Anna and Declan doesn't seem real, either, as the actors seem to be staying true to the script and not the characters. At times they seem in no real hurry to get to Dublin, which is odd for a woman who miraculously doesn't complain about blisters after walking halfway across Ireland in four-inch heels.

As the film ended I made two notes. First, I was happy that it was over. Second, as I thought about the rich girl falls for lower class guy formula, I remembered how great Overboard is.

Overboard, which stars Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn in delightful performances, is an example of the formula working to perfection. By the end, you're glad the rich lady found out what was meaningful in life, and you actually care about these characters. Leap Year is the yin to Overboard's yang, and absolutely nothing works. Even Adams, who gave inspired performances in Junebug and Enchanted, seems like she knows this movie stinks and doesn't want to be there.
This is a mess that everyone involved in should have stayed away from, but didn't. The good news is that if you are reading this and haven't seen Leap Year, you still have the chance to skip it and instead do something interesting or productive with two hours of your life.

Note: As we walked out of the theater, my wife said something funny to me: The fact that I sat through this with you, so you wouldn't have to suffer alone, should tell you just how much I love you."

Leap Year is rated PG for sensuality and language. It is currently playing at the Regal Cinemas 7 in Boone. They are also playing several excellent films like Up in the Air, Avatar and It's Complicated.

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