Published Jan 07, 2010You might have to go back to Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc to find a director as entranced by his leading lady's face as Anand Tucker is with Amy Adams. The pores in her skin; the fine lines under her eyes; the tiny mole just under her chin; heck, even the stage make-up is intensely fetishized. I wasn't sure it was possible for a camera to actually have a crush on a girl, but I can easily imagine the Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL lens sending her illicit mash notes signed only: "From your secret admirer."
Adams is often referred to as "cute as a button," and in Leap Year, which is such a bland and generic romantic comedy it evaporates from your memory while you're watching it, she struggles mightily to work that cuteness for all it's worth. She plays Anna, a straight-laced, control-freak yuppie, and watching her try to compensate for this feeble character with charm is like watching a charismatic student desperately trying to improvise a school presentation. Anna hopes to surprise her slimy boyfriend (Adam Scott) by visiting him on his business trip in Dublin and proposing, but through a variety of disastrous circumstances finds herself stranded in the Irish countryside, seeking a ride from handsome but jaded bartender Declan (Matthew Goode). I'd describe the rest of the plot, but believe me, you already know it.
Adams and Goode share an awkward lack of chemistry; they spend so much of the movie bickering that they really seem to dislike one another, and their eventual romantic attraction feels unearned. So, there's your romance. How about the comedy? Well, about 90-percent of it involves embarrassing the straight-laced control freak by having her slip in mud, step in cow patties, accidentally destroy hotel rooms, etc. Alas, the other ten-percent involves comical Irish villagers, but these scenes become slightly more bearable as long as you close your eyes and think intensely and longingly about your own demise.
Realistically, one can't expect a low-profile romantic comedy like this to be any more than a time-passing programmer. It's so functional and uncreative that writing about it is like reviewing a household appliance. In that spirit, Leap Year is a little like the handheld vacuum I bought last week: the box made it look practical, but it's not powerful enough to justify the 13 dollars I had to spend on batteries. (Universal)