Leap Year (2010)

“It’s a family myth.”

It’s such a shame that Leap Year, an interesting idea for a film about the rare extra day we get once every four years, turns out to be such a conventional and below average romantic comedy. The story makes no sense whatsoever, the unlikable leads defy the laws of attraction, and it abuses the beauty and the charm of its predominantly Irish settings with all of the expected clichés in tow. It might only happen every four trips around the sun, but the movie Leap Year proves itself to be nothing more than the type of story that’s a dime a dozen.

The picture centers on Anna (Amy Adams), an ambitious Boston girl who’s relocated to New York City with her longtime boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott), a cardiologist who oddly lacks heart or personality. The always prepared Anna stages apartments for a living, helping sellers to show potential buyers what the space could and should be. Similarly, Anna has a vision for the way her life is supposed to look. She’ll continue to excel at her job, land a lavish apartment with Jeremy, and he’ll soon propose. That’s her model and her idea of an ideal existence. But if there’s anything about Leap Year that stays true to the formula of romantic comedies from the past, it’s that things don’t quite go as planned.

Gifted diamond earrings instead of an engagement ring, Anna packs her bags and books the first flight to Dublin, following Jeremy with the intent to propose to him as part of an old family tradition. As you might expect, what can go wrong does go wrong. The big city woman has to slow her roll. And these detours introduce her to Declan (Matthew Goode), a do-all head of a Wales shanty pub and inn. She proposes that she pays him to drive her to Dublin. He begrudgingly accepts. And in what should be the most personal moments in the picture, with two strangers on the road who are facing obstacles keeping them from their final destination, Leap Year somehow becomes less and less interesting. The movie has decent enough bookends to make for a modest romantic comedy, but the scenes being held up in the middle are so hollow and pointless. The most important parts of the film – the little, intimate moments along the journey – turn out to be the most forgettable.

Director Anand Tucker – who does nothing outright wrong but makes no inspired choices either – has to work off of a poor script from Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont, and the gorgeous locations can’t mask the fact that the film has the gaze and the tone of a guidebook written by infrequent tourists. More than anything, Leap Year feels like the kind of cheap romance novel sold in supermarkets and drug stores that’s been brought to life on the screen. The biggest difference is that, as a movie, this tale lacks imagination. This is about as stiff and as stodgy and as sorry as romantic comedies get. Leap Year has the looks to reel you in and the kind of stale personality that’ll push you away. Maybe a proper Irish Exit might have given it some heft, some consequences, and enough sense to derive a purpose. Can Leap Year really be a Rom-Com when it lacks believable romance or real laughs? I’d say no, to this film and to its proposal.

“I don’t believe in that superstition stuff.”

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

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