Leap Year (2010): Romantic Comedy, Starring Amy Adams and Adam Scott

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Reviewed by Tim Grierson
 
Leap Year is a romantic comedy that never rises above the predictable or inoffensive; it’s pretty to look at, but it offers little nourishment for the head or heart. Though featuring two attractive, likable leads in Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, the film, directed by Anand Tucker, mindlessly sleepwalks through all the conventions of its genre, rarely giving its stars much room to breathe.
 
The film casts Adams as Anna, a professional stager who dresses up empty apartments with top-of-the-line furniture and other accoutrements to entice prospective renters. A marvel at her job, she prides herself on her carefully manicured life, which allows for no surprises or errant steps. The only hitch in her perfect life is her boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott), a cardiologist who’s so devoted to his work that he has yet to propose to her, even though they’ve been together for four years. But she has a plan for that, too: When he travels to Dublin for a conference, she’s going to fly separately and surprise him on Leap Day, where (according to Irish legend) a woman can propose to the man in their life.
 
But things don’t go smoothly for Anna. Because of bad weather, her flight is rerouted, landing her in a sleepy Irish village far away from Dublin. Even worse, there seems to be no way to get to Dublin except by paying local pub owner Declan (Goode) to drive her there. Declan doesn’t take too kindly to Anna’s snooty demeanor, but he needs the money to keep his pub afloat, so he reluctantly agrees. But, of course, their journey to Dublin will be beset by obstacles, which allows the two of them to develop an infatuation, despite all of their differences.
 
Tucker previously directed the melancholy Los Angeles romantic drama “Shopgirl,” but with “Leap Year” he’s transitioned to making the sort of mass-appeal romantic-comedy that isn’t interested in subtlety or wit but, rather, familiar situations that will lead to a happy ending for the central characters. Unfortunately, it’s not only Tucker who seems to be performing beneath his abilities. Adams has demonstrated an exuberant charm in films as diverse as “Junebug” and “Enchanted,” and Goode has projected a rugged sexuality in “Match Point” and “A Single Man,” but both actors are at the service of a generic screenplay that’s only interested in hitting the appropriate, familiar narrative beats at the right moments.
 
For Adams, the decision to sign on to this project was presumably based in part on wanting to raise her profile among mainstream audiences, and to demonstrate that she can carry a romantic-comedy. But even though she has probably never looked more gorgeous on screen, the role of Anna works against her talents. At her best, Adams exudes a gentle, lovable sweetness that’s impossible to resist. By comparison, though, Anna is a materialistic, type-A control freak, and while it’s obvious that these characteristics will melt away once Anna finds true love with Declan, this put-upon, occasionally whiny woman is hard to care about.
 
Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont’s script is a model of clichéd plotting that also isn’t very funny. The film’s big lessons – including Anna realizing that Declan’s unpretentious decency is more important than the posh lifestyle the callous Jeremy can provide – have no emotional heft to them, as if the filmmakers decided that they needed some banal bromide to build their story around and opted for this one. Kaplan and Elfont were writers on the 2008 romantic-comedy “Made of Honor,” and like that film, “Leap Year” strands charming actors in a narrative where the characters have to be at odds in contrived ways so that they can eventually fall in love. Rather than the resolution being satisfying and romantic, it’s simply a relief when the movie ends because the audience no longer has to endure the filmmakers’ meddling.
 
Equally troublesome is the film’s message about a woman needing the excuse of Leap Day to propose to her boyfriend. For such an assertive career woman, it’s odd that Anna would resort to an Irish legend to justify her decision to pop the question to Jeremy. Unfortunately, “Leap Year” is the kind of romantic-comedy where professional, intelligent characters must behave stupidly and immaturely so that the narrative can move forward. Since Anna is the main character, and Adams is the top-billed actor on the marquee, one must assume that “Leap Year” is targeting a female audience, which are traditionally more interested in romantic-comedies than their male counterparts. With that in mind, it seems particularly old-fashioned to paint Anna as a helpless woman who needs to wait for her man to ask her to marry.
 
Considering the film’s many flaws, the strongest aspect of “Leap Year,” tellingly, is its Irish setting. With moody gray skies overhead and vast, green countryside stretching out in every direction, the quiet backwoods that Declan and Anna travel through to get to Dublin are quite striking. You may be bored by the conventionality of the story, but the locations will help offset the tedium somewhat.
 
 Cast
Amy Adams (Anna)

Matthew Goode (Declan)

Adam Scott (Jeremy)

John Lithgow (Jack)

 
Credits
 
Universal Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment present a Barber/Birnbaum production and a Benderspink production
Producers: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Chris Bender, Jake Weiner
Executive Producers: J.C. Spink, Su Armstrong
Director: Anand Tucker
Screenplay: Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont
Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel
Editor: Nick Moore
Music: Randy Edelman
Production designer: Mark Geraghty
 
Running time: 100 minutes