‘Leap Year’: Romantic comedy lacks spark

  • Thu Jan 7th, 2010 6:29pm
  • Life

By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic

Nothing against Ireland, a perfectly nice place, but are there no other countries where Hollywood heroines can find romantic solace?

I may be overgeneralizing. Maybe we’ve only had one or two of them. But “Leap Year” is clearly one time too many.

In this case the traveler is Amy Adams, a real estate “stager” who gives prospective home buyers a fake vision of the house they’re touring. She’s totally in control of her life, perhaps too much so.

We know this because the characters repeatedly tell us so. The movie does not miss a chance to underline ideas and emotional beats by hammering them home with dialogue.

As her beau (Adam Scott) has failed to propose marriage, she concocts an ingenious plan: fly to Dublin, where he’s at a business conference, and propose to him. After all, the date will be Feb. 29, when according to old Irish custom (or according to her scattered father, played by John Lithgow) a woman may ask a man to marry.

What could go wrong, you ask? In a romantic comedy, everything. She could, for instance, be detoured to the wrong end of Ireland, meet a brooding local man (Matthew Goode) who promises to get her to Dublin, and have the trip take forever because some screenwriter watched “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”

I’m not saying that happens. But it could.

And there’s nothing really wrong with a good old rom-com setup. But “Leap Year” is completely unbelievable.

I didn’t believe the storm that deflected the heroine’s plane flight, I didn’t believe the boat that took her ashore in Ireland, I didn’t believe the ale-sodden Irishmen clustered around the pub. Absolutely everything feels like a contrivance to get from plot point A to point B.

Director Anand Tucker, whose previous movies (“Shopgirl,” for instance) have been heavier than this, doesn’t discover a light touch. He discovers some nice vistas of Ireland, but how hard would that be?

The depiction of the Irish is cloying at best. In this movie they’re oversized leprechauns, invariably adorable.

The only exception is the brooder. Matthew Goode has been a promising actor in small movies (“Match Point”) and large (“Watchmen”), but here he has the distinct air of someone who would really rather not be involved in any of this.

For Amy Adams, the bigger her movies get, the less she seems like the sly talent from “Junebug.” The skills are there, but the material is lagging badly.

“Leap Year” ½ (one and a half stars)

Amy Adams goes off to Ireland to surprise her beau, but finds herself distracted by a brooding local (Matthew Goode). Almost nothing rings true in this rom-com, which is full of twists that exist only to get from plot point A to B — and the Irish won’t be thrilled about being depicted as cheery Leprechauns.

Rated: PG for subject matter

Showing: Alderwood Mall, Everett, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood, Metro, Pacific Place, Thorton Place, Woodinville, Cascade Mall