If anything could have saved LEAP YEAR, it would have been the unalloyed star quality of its two leads, Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. Even in this slight, contrived, and predictable flick, they rise above the material, bringing depth where there is none, and charm where there is precious little.
The excuse for the action is a stalled relationship, a convenient convention in Dublin, and an Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on the 29th of February. The relationship, four years and counting, is that of Anne (Adams) and her cardiologist boyfriend, Jeremy (Adam Scott). The convention is his, whence has traveled alone, and the tradition is not just Irish in general, but one in which Anne’s grandmother indulged. After a non-proposal over a dinner that involved a small box from a high-end jeweler that packed the wrong contents, Anne decides to leap on a plane from Boston to Dublin and take the proposal reins herself.
Of course it goes wrong. The flight is diverted to Wales due to inclement weather that shuts down the Irish airport and all sea traffic across the Irish Channel. Undeterred, Anne, jaw firmly set, designer carry-on luggage in tow, and expensive, yet impractical, shoes on her tiny little feet, gets to Ireland anyway. Alas, she makes landfall in a tiny hamlet without public transport to the outside world and where her only hope is Declan (Goode), the taciturn yet handsome barkeep, innkeeper, and only provider of taxi service within Anne’s reach. She’s persnickety. He’s dour. Of course they will fall in love.
Knowing how it will all turn out, which the trailer reveals for the most part anyway, is not necessarily a problem, even if some element of surprise is always delightful in wacky comedies. Alas, the screwball antics to which this film aspires do not appear. Like the leading lady, the film never loosens its tautly regimented sense of control over the situation, even when it involves recalcitrant cows, a flying shoe finding an unfortunate target, or the inevitable scene of Anne puking on Declan’s shoes.
Inevitability terrorizes the script. The villagers, Declan excepted, are all great of heart and dim of bulb. As the feuding traveling companions vent their spleen at one another, there is the inevitable discomfort of finding themselves forced to share the same compact bed, the inevitable awkwardness of being forced to lock lips for an audience, the inevitable seeing each other in the altogether, and the inevitable confessionals to one another about their emotional baggage.
There is also the problem with the time-space continuum. Two hours and 45 minutes pass in what seems to be less than half that, even taking movie-time into consideration. The actual dates during which the action takes place are less fixed points on a calendar than the illusion that theoretical physics has been known to imply.
There is a bigger problem with Anne, who despite Adams’ best efforts, is less an attractive prospect for Declan than a reason for him to commit homicide. She also, despite having a lucrative and thriving career as a stager (don’t ask), doesn’t seem to realize that Europe uses a different sort of current than America, and neither she nor Declan can recognize a church even as they are dashing into it.
LEAP YEAR, predicated on the flimsiest of plots, and the choppiest of scripts, dissipates its energies with a wild abandon that would have better served amping up the energy on screen.