Fish-out-of-water, opposites-attract, throw some more stale clichés in the pot and you’ve got the wretched Leap Year, which is inexplicably getting a pass in some corners. Not from me; I hated the characters in this movie and I hated spending 90 minutes with them.
One of those characters, Anna Brady, is played by the always enchanting Amy Adams. It takes a lot of work for Adams to become a helpless, shrill, annoying stereotypical city girl, but she gets there. The other character, Declan, is played by Matthew Goode, who has put some good performances into some good movies; he’s the macho male asshole here, buried beneath a scruffy I-don’t-give-a-shit beard and a bad news attitude.
These characters are disgusting. The rom-com formula states that they have to hate each other first, then fall in love, but there’s this disturbing trend in recent films: the writers take things too far with obnoxious stereotyping, and the audience ends up hating both the characters. It usually happens in racier material (The Ugly Truth, What Happens in Vegas), but here’s a clean PG version, and I was similarly repulsed.
The Leap Year of the title is just a ruse, a meaningless plot device that is forgotten soon after it is introduced. Irish folklore states that a woman can propose to a man on the 29th of February; Anna’s hotshot cardiologist boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott, who usually plays a real prick, so you know something is off here) has failed to propose after four years together and happens to be in Dublin, so Anna sets off to join him by the 29th and pop the question.
But she doesn’t quite make it to Dublin: she finds herself in Dingle, Ireland due to inclement weather, and the only bartender/hotelier/cabbie in town is the arrogant Declan, who wants little to do with Anna but needs some quick cash. This leads to all the usual rom-com setups, including a stop at a B&B that will only take in a married couple, and a lovely view of the Irish countryside.
The two leads start off hating each other, and then…well, they’re pretty convincing in their hatred for each other. So convincing, in fact, that by the end I wouldn’t have been surprised to see them not end up with each other; the only thing speaking for a relationship between them is plot contrivance, this being a romantic comedy and all.
Leap Year was directed by Anand Tucker, who has done far better work, including a third of last year’s excellent Red Riding trilogy. Script by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont (Made of Honor, Surviving Christmas) should bear most of the blame – this is awful cookie-cutter stuff that does no favors for anyone involved.
John Lithgow, who receives top billing here, shows up for about 5 lines as Anna’s father.