Leap Year, the latest from luminary screenwriting duo Kaplan and Elfont (Made of Honor) fits the rom-com mold as snugly as a claddagh ring fits the finger of an Irish lad's true love.
Apartment stager Anna (Amy Adams) is days away from having her lifelong dreams come true. She and her cardiologist (cha-ching!) beau, Jeremy (Adam Scott), have a shot at a posh apartment in Boston's exclusive Davenport, and her gal pal Libby (It's Always Sunny's Sweet Dee) just spotted Jeremy jewelry shopping, which must mean he's FINALLY planning to pop the question at dinner that evening before he jets to a Dublin cardiology convention. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Anna never needs her fake surprise face thanks to the genuine surprise of being presented with diamond engage-er ... earrings. Devastated but still plucky, she decides to follow the advice of her drunken dad (always the best counsel, played by John Lithgow), fly to Dublin, and propose to Jeremy on Leap Day, Feb 29, when Irish tradition decrees it's acceptable for lassies to propose to laddies. (Versus other days when she'd be flogged?) Then, in the first of a long line of mishaps, a storm diverts Anna's plane to Wales. After landing she finds the Cork ferry canceled, and the tugboat she hires can make it no farther than Dingle, Ireland -- far from Dublin -- forcing her to seek shelter at Caragh's bar. Making an entrance with her soggy, skintight skirt, $600 stilettos and Louis Vuitton luggage, she encounters a gaggle of geezers, and wait for it, a cynical yet scruffily handsome bartender, Declan (Watchmen's Matthew Goode). Could he be an opposites-attract love interest? If you didn't know you were ankle-deep in rom-com muck before, here's a clue.
As Anna needs a ride to Dublin, and Declan could use some euros, the pair embark on an uptight-city slicker-meets-backwoods-belching-bumpkin love-hate road trip. The Caragh coots predict "they'll kill each other," and Anna does mention she detests Declan, though she also calls him a beast with a thorn in his paw and then vomits. (Probably because saying the lines made Adams queasy.) He scorns her Leap Day strategy, she chucks his sandwich out the window. It's bursting with opposites-attract goodness a la New in Town, Australia, and other odd-couple cinema courtships. Slapstick accidents (high-heeled projectiles, muddy tumbles) and frisky follies (half-naked encounters, misunderstandings that mandate playing pretend man and wife) abound. Plus there's the requisite public profession of love and a little Irish brogue shtick. Pepper the dialogue with a few catch phrases -- "it'll be grand" -- and you've got a dialect audiences can giggle at.
Adams is adorable as ever while the Harry Connick-esque Goode delivers the appropriate cheek and wronged-man broodiness -- their likability's the film's strong suit. Bucolic landscapes, crumbling castles, and sunset-lit seaside cliffs set the stage for amour, so Leap Year should satisfy consumers who relish the mass-produced, opposites-attract rom-com recipe. Not that formulaic necessarily equals mundane -- but, like many others, Leap Year doesn't do much to stand out in the crowd. The Adams-Goode spark isn't anything to swoon over, the witty repartee's lukewarm, and the plot is predictably predictable. If only rom-com creators would try a little harder. But then again, they don't have to.