REVIEW: Leap Year
REVIEW: LEAP YEAR is a riff on an old formula: the road trip romance. Of course, the gold standard of this genre will always be the 1934 Frank Capra classic IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, but there have been other interesting variations on the formula, like the 1985 teen comedy classic, THE SURE THING. While LEAP YEAR is nowhere near as good as that film, its nonetheless a fairly amusing rom-com, and is a nice antidote to some of the crappier examples of the genre weve been getting lately (BRIDE WARS, HES JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, anything starring Katherine Heigl, etc.).
Now, make no mistake; LEAP YEAR brings absolutely nothing new to the table. To be sure, the script, by rom-com veterans Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont (who previously penned the Patrick Dempsey vehicle MAID OF HONOR) is about as by-the-numbers as you can get. From the first frame of the film, you'll know exactly where this is going. Will our high strung businesswoman heroine find true love in the arms of our down to earth, everyman hero? Gee, I dunno- will she?
The only reason the film sort of works is due to the chemistry between stars Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, both of whom bring a fresh, likable quality thats often missing in these films. Judging from the talkbacks here on the site, Im not the only JoBlo Schmoe with a crush on Amy Adams. Theres really something about her that makes anything shes in watchable, and the Adams charm is in full effect here. As for co-star Goode, hes had solid run of films lately, with a scene stealing turn in Woody Allens MATCHPOINT, and strong roles in WATCHMEN, and the recently released, A SINGLE MAN. Hes definitely a star on the rise, and he pulls off the average Joe shtick a lot better than someone like Dempsey or Gerard Butler (who REALLY needs to stick to action flicks and dramas).
Adams and Goode certainly make a cute couple and the film only really works when the two are together, which thankfully is most of the film. The early scenes in Boston are pretty tedious, with too much clichéd gal talk between Adams and her best pal, who happens to be Kaitlin Olsen from IT 'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA. Meanwhile, Adam Scott, who- judging from his work in STEP BROTHERS, is usually a pretty good comedic actor has absolutely NOTHING to work with as Adams bland boyfriend, and youll never understand how someone like Adams could end up with such a stiff, but alas, such is the formula
The only bright spot in the opening stretch of the film comes from John Lithgow, who puts in a brief appearance as Adams wacky dad who gives her the LEAP YEAR idea.
That said, great as he is in his tiny (and I mean tiny- he has maybe two minutes of screen time) role- I had one problem with him being in the film. As a huge DEXTER fan, I couldnt help but think of The Trinity Killer throughout his scene, so accepting him is this light, comical role was tough. I wonder if Lithgow was almost too good as Trinity, and if hes going to end up getting pigeonholed in the role?
Things do pickup once the action moves to Ireland, and Goode enters the fray. Most of the comedy hi-jinx that ensue on the road are fairly predictable (such as the inevitable rooming house with only one bed scenario), but the stars keep things moving. Also helping matters is some nice photography courtesy of director Anand Tucker, and DP Newton Thomas Sigel with the lovely Irish scenery really giving the film a charm thats somewhat alien to films of this ilk.
While I wouldnt go so far as to say LEAP YEAR is an exceptionally good romantic comedy, its a fairly solid entry into the genre, and works pretty well for what it is. If youre looking for a solid date flick this weekend and youve already seen UP IN THE AIR, and ITS COMPLICATED, you could do worse than this.
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