DIR: Anand Tucker • WRI: Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont • PRO: Gary Barber, Chris Bender, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Jake Weiner • DOP: Newton Thomas Sigel • ED: Nick Moore • DES: Mark Geraghty • CAST: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode
In 1930, a screening of Smiling Irish Eyes in The Savoy cinema was interrupted when a group of students voiced their protest against this romantic comedy populated by stereotypes that was no more than ‘a travesty of the Irish life and an insult to Irish people’. The film received its fair share of criticism and together with the demonstration saw the swift cancellation of its run. In 2010, we get Leap Year. If only history were to repeat itself.
Now, we all know how common it is and in keeping with Irish tradition that a woman can take the opportunity once every four years and propose to a man on the 29th of February. Leap Year presents the tale of one of the millions of lucky women who have this once-every-four-year opportunity. Amy Adams is Anna Brady, whose snobbish, Blackberry-addicted, materialistic life is meaningless without a ring on her finger. When her lizard-looking boyfriend fails to pop the question and heads off to Dublin, ‘Ayerland’, for a convention, Anna decides to take matters into her own hands and follow him to the Emerald Isle so that she can demand his hand in marriage on that magical day that is the 29th of February. Sadly, on this moronic premise a film was made – a romantic comedy that is neither.
Leap Year ineptly contrives hubby-hungry, Dublin-bound Amy to leave the US and land in Wales (what?!), take a boat to Dingle (what?!) and secure the escort services of local barman with alien accent Declan (Matthew Goode) to get her to Dublin in 3 days (what?!). The gruff loutish rogue and the stuck-up prissy damsel take an instant dislike to each other – what could possibly happen? From here on in, we’re presented with ludicrous stereotypes of a retrograde Ireland as the pair set off from Dingle to Dublin and get into cockamamie scrapes that see our Declan win the heart of Amy and show her what real life and true love is (if only the poptabulous music combo Foreigner had had Declan when they sang that poignant song of longing in the ’80s).
The entire film seems to be the product of a random generator of Irish stereotypes thrown on top of a trite romcom story cobbled together by witless dullards. Step forward writers Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont (begetters of The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas). On top of the crude representation of Ireland, there is also the feebleminded portrayal of the foolish posturings of the lead female. Is there really a need in 2010 for a film that tells the story of an uptight, stuck-up narcissist who is shown the error of her ways by a brutish rogue by undergoing a series of ritual humiliations that are more offensive than funny?
There are some mind-numbing scenes of bewildering incredulity; not least the squirmingly contrived first kiss scene, and a script that beggars belief. At the stage when Anna drunkenly tells Declan that he’s a big lion with a thorn in his paw, you know it’s time to hunt down every copy of this film and destroy it – future generations will thank us.
The sloppy script and narrative set-ups assimilate any talent Amy Adams attempts to bring to proceedings. What can Adams do? A likeable actress at the best of times, she has screen presence but cannot breathe life into this corpse of a movie. She tries. Imagine the Monty Python ‘Dead Parrot’ sketch. Amy Adams is Michael Palin, the shopkeeper, trying his best to convince that there’s some sort of life in the parrot. And the audience is John Cleese, the customer, protesting the shopkeeper’s claims that there are signs of life. Now, imagine that Leap Year is the parrot: ‘This film is dead. This film is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late film. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. Its metabolical processes are of interest only to historians. It’s kicked the bucket. It’s shuffled off this mortal coil. It’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-film.’
I feel better now.
Leap Year is released 26th Feb 2010