You know me. I love all things Irish. So it is with great disappointment that I must report that Leap Year made me love Ireland just a wee bit less. The Emerald Isle has never seemed so uncharming, so inhospitable, so cranky, and so full of such miserable weather. I would pity poor Anna (Amy Adams), who had such a rotten time in Eire, if only I could care about her fearsomely bad journey with a tall, dark, and handsome stranger.
Anna Seems nice enough. Her fatal flaw -- the only thing that earns her a movie comeuppance -- is that she is super-organized and maybe a little bit of a control freak. This is later explained in the movie as being the result of growing up with a shiftless father. But whatever. She's an apartment stager -- she does a little interior decorating razzle dazzle, and apartments get rented. She has her sights set on a condo in Boston's ritziest, most exclusive building, where she plans to live with her boyfriend, a very busy cardiologist named Jeremy (Adam Scott). Jeremy, she is sure, is going to pop the question any minute, so it is with great disappointment that she receives his gift of diamond earrings instead of the engagement ring she was expecting.
Turns out Jeremy's already married to his Blackberry. Then he flies off to Dublin for a cardiology conference. Sure and begorrah, Anna is reminded of her ol' grandmother who, according to family legend, took advantage of the leap year tradition in which women can propose marriage to men on February 29. It just so happens that Jeremy will be in Dublin February 29, so Anna flies off to Dublin to hook her fella.
The control freak soon encounters bad weather. More than once. Which results in her landing in Dingle instead of Dublin. Dingle, in addition to having a funny name, contains a pub, which is also the local hotel and taxi stand. The publican is a cranky young cuss named Declan (Matthew Goode), the aforementioned tall, dark and handsome stranger. He calls Anna an "eedjit" several times before agreeing to drive her to Dublin. More misadventures interfere with Anna's plans, including further bad weather, missed trains, mud, and cows that poo. Anna has made the mistake of wearing very expensive platform heels, which, in short order, are covered in cow manure. You'd think someone that organized would have brought a pair of Wellies. Declan proceeds to mock and insult Anna a great deal more, which causes the two of them to fall in love for no reason except that the script demands it. Dr. Blackberry isn't looking so bad at this point.
Adams and Goode are both quite attractive and adorable. And yet, they can't sell this improbable romance because nothing that comes out of their mouths suggests that they are in any way compatible, or that they would even be friends once the bad weather clears up. The movie was written by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont (who have collaborated before, on Josie and the Pussycats, Made of Honor, and A Very Brady Sequel), and it's charmless and unimaginative, a forced march through the romantic comedy cliche hall of fame.
Adams is a gifted actress, but she's not, on the strength of this performance, very good at slapstick, and her humiliating pratfalls, which are many, fall flat. The wan direction of Anand Tucker doesn't help. This is a movie in which things just happen, and then you move on to the next thing that happens, and so on. For example, Anna is waiting for the very last train to Dublin, thus sensibly declining Declan's offer to hike up to some picturesque castle ruins. Really, what rational gal wouldn't want to walk up a mountain with the mopey, sneering guy who has been insulting her for the last 40 minutes? Then a dog barks at Anna, and she scurries off to the castle. What happens next is quite predictable, but who cares? What I want to know is why any person lacking a demonstrable phobia of dogs would abandon a train station and march up a mountain to a castle because a dog barked at her? It wasn't a particularly big dog, nor even a particularly vicious bark. It was just a dog following a script, and the script said "Bark!" The dog barked quite convincingly, for what it's worth, but it wasn't the sort of bark that would ordinarily dislodge a person from an otherwise reasonable plan into a foolhardy temptation of fate and train schedules.
Leap Year is a non-rom com, lacking the essential rom and com. It's predictable, generic and arbitrary, but mostly it's rather dull. When the colorful Irish locals can't even liven the place up, you know you're in the muck. If a movie like Leap Year only came along once every four years, nobody would complain. Well, I would still complain, but not as often.