Monday, January 11, 2010

Irish Thing

Have you seen The Proposal or The Ugly Truth? Then you've seen Leap Year. You've also seen approximately 80 bazillion other movies just like those three. The names and settings change but it's always the same plot. A man and a woman, usually involved with other people, meet and instantly and utterly loathe each other but circumstances keep throwing them together. They slowly start to connect, realize they like each other in spite of themselves but are suddenly thrust apart but end up overcoming various character flaws which facilitates a joyous reunion at the end. Hell, in two weeks we're going to get the same damn movie only then it's going to be called When In Rome. What makes movies like this worth watching is likable actors telling funny jokes and doing funny things. The Proposal had that. Leap Year does not.

Honestly, it's like the filmmakers went out of their way not to be funny. I think I laughed maybe six times in the 97 minutes that made up Leap Year and those were more chuckles than full on belly laughs. I can't believe Amy Adams, a woman born to star in romantic comedies, made such a dull, unappealing one. Regular readers know my affection for Amy Adams. I keep her DVDs prominently displayed just in case her car ever breaks down outside my house, her cell phone dies and she needs to come in and use my phone. Then I'll say, "Oh hey, you look just like that woman from Enchanted," and she'll say, "Yes, that's me." One thing leads to another and we're married in six months. Does that seem unbelievable? Sadly for Amy, it's far more realistic than anything that happens in Leap Year.

Amy Adams plays Anna, a stuck up yuppie perfectionist who makes a living making apartments suitable for realtors to show to prospective buyers/renters. You wouldn't think there'd be a lot of money in a profession like that but she can afford things like multiple pairs of $600 shoes so I guess you would be wrong. Or maybe she gets the money from her cardiologist boyfriend played by Adam Scott, a man who was so funny in Step Brothers but, if memory serves, is given absolutely nothing funny to do in this movie. Anyway, Anna is told by Rom-Com Standard Character #7, also known as the female lead's jaded, world weary best friend, that boyfriend Jeremy was spotted leaving a high end jewelry store so they assume he has purchased an engagement ring and dismiss all other possibilities. It turns out they shouldn't have done that as he bought her diamond earrings instead, gave them to her then flew off to Ireland for a medical conference. When she hears there's some old Irish tradition that a woman can propose to a man every four years on February 29, she suddenly ceases to be the intelligent woman she's been up to that point and flies off to Dublin on the spur of the moment.

She must not have seen as many romantic comedies as I have because she's actually surprised when bad weather forces her flight to divert to Wales. She takes a boat to Ireland and winds up in Dingle, hundreds of miles from Dublin. This is where she meets Declan (Matthew Goode). He runs the local pub/inn/taxi service. Despite having the market on all three of those professions cornered in Dingle, he's having money problems, a fact that could have some thing to do with the fact that he treats customers who walk through his door as if they have leprosy. Why does he do this? Because it was convenient for the script for Declan to be a surly, unlikable A-hole, especially to Anna. Anyway, despite the instant dislike they have for each other, Declan ends up driving Anna to Dublin.

I've never been to Ireland but, if this movie is to be believed, it is made entirely of narrow, unpaved roads and has a population of 20. Anna and Declan are wind up staying in one tiny room after another in which normally private things like showering suddenly become group activities. Circumstances like that are likely to lead to murder but in this case it leads to such an intense mutual attraction that Anna begins considering dumping the guy she came to Dublin to marry, leave her successful business in a big city like Boston and become a tavern owner's wife in a small village that almost certainly has little need for a professional apartment stager.

Naturally, it all works out because that's what happens when screenplays aren't so much written but rather created by Microsoft's Rom-Com Generator 2010. As I said, the biggest problem isn't the preposterous, derivative plot but rather the utter lack of humor. Other than the occasional pretty shot of the Irish countryside, very little happens that is memorable unless it was memorably bad. I'm shocked that the author of such movies as Made of Honor and Surviving Christmas couldn't write a funnier screenplay but I suppose flukes like this can happen.

If you'll excuse me, I'm not going to file this away as a Microsoft Word template so I can change the names and reuse this review later this month for Kristen Bell's When In Rome.

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