January 14, 2010

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Leap Year (PG)
Amy Adams and Matthew Goode awkwardly pick their way through Leap Year, another rotting canned ham of a romantic comedy.

Anna (Amy Adams) is so close to the life she’s always dreamed of she can taste it. She’s poised to get an apartment in a fancy, exclusive building and she’s poised to get a husband in her fancy exclusive cardiologist boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott). Except at the very moment when she thinks Jeremy will ask the question that will finally and forever align all the stars, he doesn’t. Unwilling to let that get her down, Anna decides to do the proposing herself. Jeremy will be in Dublin for a few days and it just so happens one of those days is Feb. 29 — the day when, as legend has it, a woman can propose to a man. She boards the plane to Dublin, sure in the knowledge that she’ll be Jeremy’s fiancée in no time.

Naturally, something has to keep the trans-Atlantic flight from completing its journey, and that thing is weather. She lands in the U.K. instead of Ireland and has to take a boat, which naturally takes her off course, requiring a car to get her all the way into Dublin. But in the little town where she goes teetering into a pub asking for assistance, there is but one driver — the sullenly handsome Declan (Goode) who is also the pub’s bartender and the owner of the attached hotel. He wants no part of going to Dublin but the arrival of a collector on back payments convinces him to put on his chauffeur’s hat and soon Declan and Anna set off on an adventure that is probably something like two and a half hours’ drive but takes them like three days. Just long enough to get all in lurve.

If you’ve ever watched even one romantic comedy, you know these people — the girl who worships planning and precision, the boy who is all goofiness and banter to hide a wounded heart. (All playing out in, of course, a green-as-St.-Paddy’s-day-beer Ireland full of wincingly “quirky” characters.) Except, if you look outside the theater, you don’t know these people. I’ve met people who are persnickety, who are immature, who are wounded, who are desperate but those people look nothing like these people (personality-wise, to say nothing of the idea that every romantic comedy couple is, to regular people, what a just-off-the-lot Mercedes is to my crumbling compact car). These people don’t feel real or fresh — the waves of stinky used-character waft off even this charming duo (Adams has had successes all over the place; Goode’s shining moment is probably 2005’s Match Point), which tries gamely to give some life to this limp nonsense.

And SPOILER ALERT, but for all Anna’s faults (because planning and ambition are always faults in this kind of movie) does she really deserve the movie’s series of abject humiliations that push her flat to the ground before she’s allowed to get what we all know all along she’s going to get? For a movie clearly constructed to be a comfort-food warm bath of female-friendly romance, whose fantasy, exactly, is that? D+

Rated PG for sensuality and language. Directed by Anand Tucker and written by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, Leap Year is an hour and 41 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Universal Pictures.