Leap Year (2010)


Leap Year
(2010, PG) is a romantic comedy starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. That tells you all you need to know about this movie.

Okay, let me try a little harder. In Leap Year we are introduced to protagonist Anna Brady (Amy Adams), a Boston socialite whose business success is offset by her disappointment that her boyfriend, Jeremy, of four years has failed to propose to her and evidences no immediate intentions of doing so. After being let down one too many times, Anna's father tells her about an Irish tradition in which women can propose to men during a Leap Year on February 29th. AsĀ  it so happens that Jeremy is going away to a medical conference in Dublin, and that it also conveniently happens to be a leap year, and that it conveniently happens to be only a few days prior to February 29th, Anna decides to clandestinely follow her boyfriend to Ireland in hopes of catching up with him and proposing on February 29th.

Why this had to take place in Ireland just because it was an Irish tradition, I don't know. I suppose the tradition would have been valid wherever in the world it occurred, but I suppose the trip to Ireland was necessary to make the movie more "Irish." Who knows. I'm thinking too hard about it.

Anyhow, a series of random things go disastrously wrong on Anna's trip and leave her stranded in the town of Dingle where she takes up with an handsome but standoffish innkeeper named Declan O'Callaghan (Matthew Goode) who reluctantly volunteers to drive her to Dublin in exchange for some much-needed cash to save his tavern. On the way, a series of increasingly unlikely calamities take place that bring Declan and Anna together while Anna simultaneously begins to see that her romance with her boyfriend is seriously deficient. Then some stuff happens, there are some proposals and counter proposals and of course in the end Anna leaves Jeremy and Boston behind to return to Dingle and wed Declan.

The film plays on two traditional comedy situations that are well-tested: (1) a series of unforeseen disasters occur on what should be an easy trip that turns trip into a long and grueling ordeal (Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Harold and Kumar go to Whitecastle, etc). (2) Two people who don't get along initially are forced to spend time together and find out that they have a lot in common and actually like each other quite a bit (Breakfast Club, Hot Fuzz, Lethal Weapon, Monsters University, Finding Nemo, etc). Normally these situations yield comic gold, but it just doesn't work in Leap Year.

Amy Adams is good in roles where she is supposed to be an unbelievably cheery and optimistic character, like Enchanted or The Muppets, but I have not really been impressed with her acting when she is supposed to be taken seriously, like in Man of Steel. I'm not sure I believe her character here, and the lines between the romantic and the comedic are kind of blurred in a way that you are never able to really get into either. This is a common pitfall in romantic comedies - the movie not sure whether it wants to be a romance or a comedy. This is a definite problem in Leap Year.

The film rehashes a lot of the tired old scenes we've witnessed in a billion other romantic comedies. Man accidentally walks in on woman changing her clothes. Man and woman compelled to awkwardly spend the night in the same room. Man and woman fight over choice of music in the car. Sigh.

Speaking of rehashes, a lot of very generic Irish stereotypes are drawn upon heavily: the Irish as desperately superstitious, for example. The only Irish people Anna ever meets besides Declan are a group of old geezers wearing tweed sipping ale in a pub. The scenery is beautiful of course (it's Ireland), but the Irishness of the movie is really only skin-deep. As I mentioned above, there's no pressing reason why this story has to be situated in Ireland aside from the tenuous connection to the Irish Leap Year tradition. Even that kind of gets chucked over time; Anna never does propose on the 29th, and the whole Leap Year motive for her trip kind of gets shelved by the second half of the movie.

There is a moral dilemma in Declan's character that is never satisfactorily resolved. Declan is an angry, resentful man who is still hurting because another man took his fiance. Declan feels understandably upset about this, and the painful episode is behind his coolness towards Anna when they first meet. Yet he seems to think nothing of being the other guy who takes Anna away from her fiance. We are supposed to sympathize with him because another man took his girl all the while cheering for him to take away a different man's girl. Huh? Well I guess it's okay because afterall Anna's finace Jeremy is a douche-bag cariologist and Declan is a handsome Irish innkeeper. Whatever.

Objectionable content? Declan walks in on Anna changing her clothes and catches her in bra and panties. A few scenes of sloppy kissing. Declan and Anna lie about being married so they can rent a room together in a Bed and Breakfast that only rents to married folks.

Was it a terrible movie? Not exactly. I got a few chuckles out of it, and I always like seeing Irish scenery. Matthew Goode did a good job in his role. But the gags are boringly repetitive, and the plot is extremely predictable - you know exactly how the whole film is going to go from the first minute you see the character of Declan O'Callaghan. "Oh. She's gonna have him take her to Dublin and fall in love with him on the way and end up marrying him instead of her rich doctor fiance." Some may say this is just a traditional romantic comedy, but I would say it was an attempt at being a traditional romantic comedy and did not quite live up to what it was trying to accomplish.

1.5 tiaras.