Genre films are really hit and miss. If you’re quite lucky, you’ll get a hit, but producers find out all the time that it’s really easy to think you’ve got a winner and then just miss. This is especially true with romantic comedies, which are perhaps the most difficult genre to score a hit. Usually, either the comedy fails, the situation isn’t quite creative enough, or–most frequently–the leads just don’t have chemistry, which comes back to the casting.
Unfortunately, Leap Year is a near miss and that’s real shame because it is full of promise, even with a hokey idea, and the female lead is Amy Adams, which is as close to a sure bet as you can get.
Anna Brady (Adams) is a Type A apartment stager. She’s a ball of energy, completely full of herself, and engaged to cardiologist Jeremy Sloane (Adam Scott). For as long as she can remember, she’s wanted to get into a certain apartment complex, so they apply with the notion that they are engaged. After five years of waiting, Anna truly wants to be engaged, but Jeremy doesn’t seem to take the hint.
Her Irish father, Jack Brady (John Lithgow) has told her of an Irish tradition whereby if a woman proposes to her mate on February 29th (of a Leap Year, obviously), he must accept. As it happens, Jeremy is going to Dublin for a cardiology conference, so she decides to take advantage of the tradition to get a Yes. However, a terrible storm detours the plane to Cardiff, Wales, and all flights to Dublin have been cancelled. Somehow, she hires a boat to take her to Dublin, but the storm forces them to stop at Cork, where they let her off on the Dingle Peninsula. Wandering into a pub, she tries to get a taxi to Dublin, but the only one available will be driven by Declan O’Callaghan (Matthew Goode), the pub owner. His inn is threatened with foreclosure unless he can raise the money, so he agrees to drive her for 500 Euros.
Thus begins a series of catastrophes that sees them walking most of the way. While staying overnight at a bed and breakfast, they must pretend to be married and sleep in the same room. During the dinner, each of the old Irish couples kiss and they force Anna and Declan to follow suit. It is a kiss that surprises both of them with its tenderness and intimacy. While avoiding a hailstorm, they barge into a wedding and become part of the party. Anna gets drunk and tries to kiss Declan, but ends up soiling his shoes. The next time we see them, they are sleeping on a bench at a bus stop.
It doesn’t take a doctorate to figure out what happens. It is, after all, a romantic comedy.
The most serious problem in the film is that there is no heat between Adams and Goode. As an Amy Adams fan, I am left to blame Matthew Goode. I think the issue really is casting. He comes off a bit cold, for all his Irish humor, but nothing ever sizzles between the pair and frankly, I didn’t ever believe them as a couple. That Amy Adams would settle for either Jeremy or Declan is a huge stretch of the imagination, which has already been severely strained by the improbable series of events that make up the movie.
Although Anna and Declan wear coats throughout the trip, we never really see them cold, yet they are walking through Ireland in February. I didn’t believe that. One can only imagine the freezing wind, yet all they face is a little rain that doesn’t ever seem to chill. All of the Irish characters are very well done and quite believable. The scenery is fantastic. Throughout the movie we are treated to one beautiful view of green hills and countryside after another. The cliffs at Dingle are spectacular and the camera captures them beautifully.
However, with an unbelievable script and a lack of chemistry between the stars, the movie just never really takes off and a fine performance by Amy Adams is wasted. If it weren’t for Amy, I’d skip this one, but she is as lovable as ever and that makes it worth seeing.