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One Small Leap From Disaster

Movie Title: Leap Year (2010)
Spoilers: No

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Leap Year stars Amy Adams and Matthew Goode in a reaching romantic comedy that comes a day late and a dollar short of looking as good as the scenes we get of a pleasant Irish countryside. Jeremy (Adam Scott) is a cardiologist with a jam-packed schedule. Anna Brady (Adams) is a stager, someone who helps realtors sell houses by making them more presentable. Together, they deem themselves the couple made for each other, ready to live the life everyone wants to live.

But they aren’t quite the match made in heaven--and you knew that even before your eyes finished the previous sentence. There’s something missing in the relationship, something missing from one of their lives. Can you guess which one? Of course, you can. And if you've seen the trailer, you've seen the movie.

Jeremy is taking too long to ask her to marry him, and based on an old Irish tradition that goes back hundreds of years, which allows a woman to ask a man to marry her on a Leap Year, Anna gets it in her head to fly to Ireland where her boyfriend is on business and pop the question to him (you already know where this is heading). There, she meets Declan (Matthew Goode), an obstinate outspoken charmer not unlike herself.

That is all you need to know to see that Anna is yet another yawn-worthy creation of an attractive, tasteful, fashion-obsessed, smart chick who is still, in some small way, waiting to be swept off her feet by a ridiculously clich├ęd “knight in shining armor.” Anna very closely resembles Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fischer) from Confessions of a Shopaholic. Apparently, women the world over really do connect with this type of classy chick--always wanting to be surprised by their man while claiming not to like surprises.

Adams’ character may not be unique, but she and The Fabulously Fierce Fashionista would have much to talk about…so would all women. Ok, fine! Keep looking for your damn knight in shining armor, ladies! You’re not going to stop because I say so.

The problem is, Leap Year doesn’t generate that much good gab. It’s not novel, and it’s definitely not funny. The painfully improbable predicaments that Anna finds herself in are as set up as a mall kiosk. Declan and Anna are both brainy and headstrong, but neither know what they want. As in every robbed-by-time romance flick, they have to find it out by a sucky series of circumstances, and we have to watch as things crawl toward their inevitably contrived conclusion. As when at the dentist, that makes some of us gag. On the positive side, the film has one thing going for it--it’s admirable star leads.

An all-too-brief appearance by John Lithgow as Anna’s father at the film’s beginning is one of the high points (and proof that Lithgow - all by himself - can brighten up any set, no matter how bleak things look due to the writing). And things do look bleak for Leap Year. The cruddy slapstick and non-screen-friendly cast of supporting role performers take their toll as they follow a script that makes time go by like the dripping of molasses.

Delivering it from total value annihilation is a faint glimmer of touching grace. Buried deep beneath the surface lies some small hope. Goode and Adams can act and have a physical on-screen connection that staves off the downpour of a tsunami’s worth of plain writing and unoriginal source material. But be ye warned; braving the elements of a too long romance is a gamble to which you may or may not find a payoff! Despite the rains, the aquifer of emotional depth is not filled to capacity. Only hopeless romantics, please.

(JH)

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Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: PG
Director: Anand Tucker
Summary: A woman prepares to propose to her boyfriend on a Leap Year in keeping with an Irish tradition.
Starring: Amy Adams “Anna Brady,” Matthew Goode “Declan,” Adam Scott “Jeremy,” John Lithgow “Jack Brady,” Noel O'Donovan “Seamus,” Tony Rohr “Frank,” Pat Laffan “Donal”
Genre: Romance / Comedy
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