“Leap Year”, a new opposites-attract-romantic-comedy, stars Amy Adams and Matthew Goode as the metaphoric oil and water. She’s a perfectionist, he isn’t. She pushy, he’s laid back. She doesn’t do quaint very well, he’s… well, quaint. It’s the standard rom com set up, but instead of the usual New York setting director Anand Tucker places the action in the picturesque Irish country side.
The action begins in Boston where uptight Anna (Adams) has become tired of waiting for her yuppie-scum cardiologist boyfriend of four years to propose. Taking matter into her own hands and citing an obscure Irish tradition that declares it impossible for a man to refuse a woman’s proposal on Leap Day she decides to ambush him on February 29 while he is in Dublin on business. Delayed by bad weather she lands in a remote Irish village and begins the long road trip to Dublin accompanied by Declan (Goode), a rough hewn local who agrees to take her to the big city in return for enough money to save his failing pub.
Rom coms are predictable beasts. We know who is going to end up with who, because if we don’t, I guess it would be a romantic suspense movie and who would pay to see that? The trick to making an effective rom com is to keep the ride interesting all the up to the final, and inevitable, loving embrace between the two leads. At this “Leap Year” is only partially successful.
Adams and Goode have the lion’s share of screen time and while they are both charming, good actors, neither is doing their best work here. Where is the interesting Adams of “Sunshine Cleaning”? Or “Enchanted’s” lovable Adams? For that matter as a love interest Goode was far more effective with one-tenth of the screen time in “A Single Man, “ and generated way more heat as Charles Ryder in the generally restrained “Brideshead Revisited” from a couple of years ago. Both put up a good fight but are beaten by material that is beneath them. Amy Adams deserves better than to share a scene with a herd of unresponsive cows.
Worst of all, for actors of Adams and Goode’s stature, neither really makes the material her or his own. I could imagine any number of actors playing these parts and for this movie to really work I shouldn’t have been able to imagine that the movie would have pretty much the same if it had starred Renee Zellweger and Gerard Butler.
“Leap Year” isn’t absolutely terrible, in fact for a January rom com it’s a step up from “New in Town” or “27 Dresses”, but it is really average; just another mildly amusing, predictable entry in a generally mindless genre that badly needs a shot in the arm. If only Quentin Tarantino would make a romantic comedy…