[Screen It]

(2010) (Amy Adams, Matthew Goode) (PG)

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Romantic Comedy: A career woman travels to Ireland, hoping to use an old Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men every Feb. 29th to ask her commitment-phobic boyfriend to marry her.
Anna (AMY ADAMS) is a Boston-based career woman who has dated cardiologist Jeremy (ADAM SCOTT) for nearly four years. Anna is ready to take the relationship to the next level and get married. Jeremy, though, doesn't seem to have any interest in making such a long-term commitment. Instead, he goes on an extended business trip to Ireland.

Sad and depressed, Anna surfs the Web one night and comes up with the perfect solution. She will fly over to Dublin and surprise Jeremy on Feb. 29th, a date that happens every four years that many Europeans treat as a day in which it's socially acceptable for the woman to ask the man for his hand in marriage.

One problem: a fierce storm has forced Anna's plane to land on the other side of the country. She hooks up with Declan (MATTHEW GOODE), a hunky tavern owner who needs cash quick to keep the lenders at bay. He consequently decides to drive her to Dublin himself for a fee. Amid much bickering, the two fall in love.

What follows is a road comedy in which this mismatched, oil-and-water pair become kindred spirits. At the end of the road, though, is Jeremy and Anna's feelings for him.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
Just once, I'd like to see a romantic comedy from the Hollywood production machine in which the three lead characters caught up in the central love triangle would just stop, look at each other, and acknowledge: "Hey, what are we doin' here?! This is all playing out like some bad Hollywood rom-com!" Unfortunately, "Leap Year" is not anywhere near that smart or daring. It tells your typical fish-out-of-water story in which the sophisticated hero or heroine from the big city gets plunked down into some backwards, rural Hellhole and ends up falling for a charming, simple mate who knows how to live "the good life."

In "Leap Year," Amy Adams plays the uptight Anna, who has waited four years for her cute cardiologist boyfriend, Jeremy (Adam Scott) to pop the question. Surfing the Web one night, she comes across an old Irish tradition that makes it socially acceptable on Feb. 29th -- a date which occurs only every four years -- for women to propose to their boyfriends. This might be her one chance to break through Jeremy's commitment phobia, especially considering that he will so conveniently be in Dublin on the 29th.

But, of course, a raging storm develops as Anna is en route to Europe via airplane, depositing the poor woman and her high heels (she wears them in every scene regardless of geography, weather, or personal comfort in short, she's a twit) on the other side of the country far away from Jeremy. In her mind, it's a race against time to get to him by the 29th, which is only in a few days.

Of course, she gets assistance from a hunky, local tavern owner (Matthew Goode) who is her direct opposite. Of course, the two bicker and quarrel with each other throughout. Of course, they'll eventually fall for each other and Adams will be forced to choose.

I could list about a dozen more "of courses" that would further call the mundane, plodding screenplay by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont to task. But why bother? This is one of those flicks clearly aimed at young audience members perhaps feeling the blush of newfound love themselves. Those are a forgiving bunch. Pretty much everyone else will find this flick fairly tedious.

I did enjoy the chemistry between Adams and Goode and wish they had a sharper screenplay that allowed them to do some better character work. Adams has been particularly appealing on screen ever since her super-sweet one-two punch in "Junebug" (for which she was nominated for an Academy Award) and "Enchanted." Goode, meanwhile, is basically a poor man's Hugh Jackman. But at the end of the day, that can't be so bad, can it? What guy wouldn't wanna be the second or third studio choice after Jackman passes on the script?

There's just not a single thing in the film that is at all original or quirky or innovative. It's "New in Town" meets "Sweet Home Alabama" meets "Doc Hollywood" meets umpteen other flicks. You can tell every plot twist coming, such as Adams and Goode having to fake being married in order to get a good motel discount for the night or Adams' boyfriend turning out to be a closet jerk (something ol' Anna apparently didn't catch at all in her four years with him).

The best thing the film has going for it are its stunning Irish locations. Even in the most trite scenes with the most tired dialogue, your eyes can still drink in the rolling green hills, the tranquil beauty of the countryside, the charming cottages and railway stations, the sounds of an uncluttered existence. This will work best on those audience members just looking for a simple escape who enjoy not having to think too much. For the rest of us, the movie rates just a 4 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed December 10, 2009 / Posted January 8, 2010

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