Leap Year


Leap Year

Amy Adams is absolutely flummoxed that Matthew Goode has never seen a brass bed before.

(Universal) Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, John Lithgow, Adam Scott, Kaitlin Olson, Noel O’Donovan, Tony Rohr, Pat Laffan, Alan Devlin, Ian McElhinney, Dominique McElligott, Mark O’Regan, Maggie McCarthy. Directed by Anand Tucker

In life we sometimes find ourselves on a journey from point A to point B. There are times when the destination isn’t the main thing; the trip itself is what defines us.

Anna Brady (Adams) is a driven, focused woman with a firm grasp of what she wants out of life. She has a marvelous eye for detail which serves her well in her profession as an apartment presenter – someone who is hired by realtors to take empty apartments and dress them with furniture and things to give the space as appealing a look as possible.

She has been going with her boyfriend Jeremy (Scott) for four years. He’s a cardiologist who, like Anna, is married to his job and lives with his nose in his Blackberry. The two have decided to try to get an apartment in Boston’s most prestigious building, the spots for which are like gold and guarded with zealous self-righteousness by the building’s board. After their interview with the board, Jeremy tells Anna that he has something he needs to give her at dinner; Anna’s friend Libby (Olson) had spied him coming out of a posh Boston jewelry store. Is this, at last, the night that Jeremy pops the question?

Of course not. She is instead, presented with diamond earrings, marking one of the few times in history a woman is depressed about receiving diamond earrings from her handsome, cardiologist boyfriend. After that, he’s off to a convention in Dublin – or is that a symposium? Convention seems like a rather gauche term for a gathering of cardiologists.

Anna’s drunken ne’er-do-well dad Jack (Lithgow) offhandedly lets drop that in Ireland it is permissible for women to propose to men on Leap Day (February 29) which, as it just so happens, is just a few days hence. Anna boards a plane meant to take her to Dublin. Will she, at last, make it to the Irish capital and propose to her feet-dragging boyfriend?

Of course not. Bad weather diverts the plane to Cardiff, where the same bad weather shuts down the ferry service as well. The closest Anna can get to Dublin is a small village called Dingle, which has a single pub owned by Declan (Goode) who, as Anna finds out when she makes a call, is also the village taxi service. He is at first not willing to drive her to Dublin which he seems to bear some resentment towards, but when a local reminds Declan his kitchen is about to be repossessed and he needs to raise 1,000 Euros within a week, he relents since Anna is offering 500 for the ride. At last, is Anna on her way to Dublin?

Of course not. Stubborn cows, early trains, and bad breaks (or is that bad brakes?) conspire against Anna as the 29th creeps closer and closer. Declan and Anna initially get along about as well as the IRA and the British Army, but soon enough they begin to warm up to each other. Will Anna make it to Dublin in time to propose to her boyfriend…and is he the one she ought to be proposing to?

Writers Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont are well-known “script fixers” in Hollywood and this is their first original script. I say original and yet there is nothing particularly original about it. This is standard romantic comedy fare following typical Hollywood romantic comedy formula; boy meets girl, boy and girl can’t stand each other, boy and girl fall for each other, boy and girl are separated by circumstance or misunderstanding, boy and girl finally realize they need each other and wind up together in the final reel.

The problem here is that there are no surprises. Everything follows the formula down to the letter, never deviating an inch. While Adams is one of the most charming and likable actresses working today, she is given a script which doesn’t utilize her natural abilities much. She comes off as fussy and prissy; it is a tribute to her abilities as an actress that she remains likable in a role which essentially isn’t. Goode is given the standard Irish rogue’s role and does what he can with it, but comes off bland. It isn’t his best work ever, and the movie might well have used it.

The cinematography is simply gorgeous. The movie’s producers wisely chose to shoot in locations not traditionally used in Hollywood, which prove a gorgeous backdrop to the romance. The movie is worth seeing just for the scenery alone. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t measure up to the backdrop.

There are few genuine laughs here and plenty of stock Irish and romantic comedy characters, enough that you have to wonder if the script was not so much written as assembled. There is some charm here, enough that you won’t feel like you have completely wasted your time but this is a movie suffering from a sore excess of Hollywood cliché. The state of romantic comedies in Hollywood is pretty sad; most of them, like Leap Year, follow the stock formula religiously and on those rare occasions where there is some deviation, it is cause for celebration. These days, romantic comedies rely on the likability, charm and chemistry of the leads and if that isn’t there, it’s pretty disastrous. This isn’t quite a catastrophe, but it isn’t a triumph either.

REASONS TO GO: Amy Adams is such a charmer that even with sub-par material she still shines. The area the filmmakers used to film is rarely seen on movie screens and is simply breathtaking.

REASONS TO STAY: Another romantic comedy with a stale, cliché script. There are no real surprises and not a lot of laughs.

FAMILY VALUES: There are some scenes of mild sensuality and a bit of foul language, but suitable for teens and mature tweens.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: While the village of Dingle is ostensibly on the Eastern shore of Ireland, the Aran Islands where those segments were shot are actually off of the Emerald Isle’s West Coast.

HOME OR THEATER: Some of the Irish vistas look best on a big screen but overall if this isn’t the kind of film that appeals to you there is no reason not to wait til the DVD or cable release.

FINAL RATING: 5/10

TOMORROW: What Just Happened

New Releases for the Week of January 8, 2010


New Releases for January 8, 2010

Amy Adams decides to pack up her things and head for a movie where an Oscar nomination is at least possible.

LEAP YEAR

(Universal) Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott, John Lithgow, Noel O’Donovan, Tony Rohr, Pat Laffan, Alan Devlin. Directed by Anand Tucker

A young woman tires of waiting for her commitment-phobic boyfriend to propose to her. She discovers an old Irish tradition that allows for a woman to propose to a man on Leap Day and, lo and behold, he is going to be in Dublin on Leap Day. She hops on a plane, expecting to be there in plenty of time, but bad airplanes, bad weather and bad luck conspire to strand her on the other side of the Emerald Isle. She enlists the help of a studly local to get her to Dublin on time which paves the way for much bickering, and anybody who’s ever seen a Hollywood romantic comedy knows what that leads to.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: PG (for sensuality and language)

Broken Embraces

(Sony Classics) Penelope Cruz, Lluis Homar, Blanca Portilla, Rossy de Palma. Legendary Spanish director returns with his latest movie, a thriller about a writer and former movie director who is blinded in a car crash that also takes the life of his lover. Devastated, he adopts the pseudonym that he had been using as a writer and leaves his real name, which he had used as a director, to die in the car crash. Fourteen years later, he is moved to tell the story of his tribulations to a young man who has also been injured in a car crash, and the story moves from being mere entertainment to pass the time to something much deeper…and darker.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: R (for sexual content, language and some drug material)

Daybreakers

(Lionsgate) Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Claudia Karvan. When a plague turns the majority of the human population into vampires (take that, Edward Cullen!) the shrinking human population must be captured and farmed for blood. As their food supply dwindles, a substitute for human blood must be found. However, a covert group of vampires discovers something remarkable, something that might just save the human race from extinction.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: R (for strong bloody violence, language and brief nudity)

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

(Sony Classics) Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Johnny Depp. Director Terry Gilliam once again creates a unique and imaginative fantasy. Dr. Parnassus, the owner of a travelling show, carries with him a dark and terrible secret; he made a deal with the devil for immortality in exchange for the soul of his firstborn when she reaches her 16th birthday. With that date rapidly approaching, Dr. Parnassus renegotiates the deal; the first of the two of them to seduce five souls wins. The good doctor must use every trick up his sleeve to save the soul of his precious daughter. This was Ledger’s last movie before his tragic passing; he had only partially completed filming. The movie was re-written, allowing several actors – including Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell – to fill the role for the rest of the action.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: PG-13 (for violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking)

Youth in Revolt

(Dimension) Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi. A somewhat mousy young man falls in love with a free-spirited girl during a family vacation. With geography, family and the girl’s ex-boyfriends all conspiring against him, he decides (with the encouragement of the object of his affections) to create a worldly alter-ego that she can truly fall for. However, the new him goes hopelessly out of control, leading to mayhem and just maybe, love.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: R (for sexual content, language and drug use)