Amy Adams as Anna Brady
Matthew Goode as Declan
Adam Scott as Jeremy
John Lithgow as Jack
Noel O’Donovan as Seamus
Tony Rohr as Frank
Pat Laffan as Donal
Alan Devlin as Joe
Ian McElhinney as Priest
Dominique McElligott as Bride
Mark O’Regan as Captain
Maggie McCarthy as Eileen
Peter O’Meara as Ron
Macdara Ó Fatharta as Father Malone
Kaitlin Olson as Libby
Directed by Anand Tucker
Predictable as hell but ultimately delivering exactly what’s advertised, the fun rapport between Adams and Goode is often enough to keep this movie from totally sinking into its own formula-driven plot.
Anna Brady (Amy Adams) has the perfect relationship with her boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott) except that after four years together, he hasn’t asked her to marry him, so she decides to take the initiative and follow him to Dublin and pop the question on Leap Day. (It’s an Irish tradition apparently.) Instead, she gets stranded in the middle of nowhere and has to rely on a gruff local cab driver named Declan (Matthew Goode) to get her to Dublin.
The thought of sitting through another formulaic Hollywood romantic comedy so soon after the last two is enough to make any film critic want to throw down their notepad and quit, especially when you’re presented with as obvious a “meet cute” premise as this one. Even so, “Leap Year” has enough saving graces that insures that it’s rarely more or less than what’s promised from the genre: a little bit of romance and a few laughs.
The first act introducing Amy Adams’ character Anna bodes poorly for the rest of the movie, because she seems to be a fairly typical rom-com heroine – successful in her career but unhappy with her relationship and willing to do whatever it takes to fix that. In this case, it involves flying after her traveling boyfriend, played by Adam Scott as the same yuppie dirtbag he’s done so well in movies like “Step Brothers,” and proposing to him on February 29 in Dublin, following an Irish tradition. Instead, she gets stranded in a small village hundreds of miles away and she hires a gruff local bartender and cab driver to take her to Dublin.
It’s essentially the same formula we’ve seen countless times before: throw together two attractive individuals of the opposite sex from different backgrounds, and watch as they fight their inevitable attraction for as long as possible. Normally, it can be a grueling experience, but Adams is generally likeable enough even in her worst moments making this easier to tolerate. Fans of Adams’ previous work might have higher hopes for the actress than having to resort to the type of ridiculous physical humor sometimes required, but she handles the humiliation well, and her reactions to an entire hotel room falling to pieces from one wrong move is great stuff. Unfortunately, she also seems to be getting stuck in the same one-note role she played in “Julie & Julia”–even saying “yum” at one point–so hopefully, this will be the last time we see this sort of role for the two-time Oscar nominee.
Movies like this can often be especially painful for guys, because they’re so slanted towards the female perspective that every guy is a walking stereotype, so it’s refreshing that this doesn’t go down the normal route of making Adams’ traveling partner completely detestable. Instead, Matthew Goode plays Declan with enough of a warm roguish charm (and a more than convincing Irish accent) to make the perfect foil for Adams, delivering his barbs in a way that makes the recurring bits quite enjoyable. One can easily see Goode achieving a similar love by American women as Hugh Grant, as long as he diversifies with different roles and doesn’t get dragged too far into romantic comedy hell.
Director Anand Tucker proves himself to be a more than competent at delivering everything the film requires from the lighter physical humor to the sweeter romantic moments, and the movie looks quite good, especially the scenic Irish vistas that act as the story’s backdrop.
As you much as you might want to hate the movie for its stubborn adherence to formula, there’s no denying the chemistry between the two leads does win you over once you get past the silly physical stuff. The combined charm of the duo makes it fun to watch the ups and downs of their relationship, and there are more than a few sweet and romantic moments, as well as a couple of scenes that play in their inherent sexuality, only done in a way that’s fairly pure and innocent. Adam Scott only appears in the movie long enough to make it obvious how wrong his character is for Anna, and it doesn’t take a film degree to know where things will go once they’re finally reunited. Even knowing these results going into the movie, it would take a fairly hard and cold soul to not be even slightly warmed up by the film’s romantic coda.
The Bottom Line:
Women looking for a little romance with some light humor thrown in for good measure could do far worse than this by-the-books “meet cute” rom-com. Anyone expecting anything more than what’s offered by the trailer won’t find much.