Friday, 26 February 2010
I didn't want to harp on about another romantic comedy after "Valentine's Day" but the one I just sat through was so mundane, formulaic, predictable and contrived that I feel I must vent.
"Leap Year" is another variation on the "It Happened One Night" formula in which two apparently mis-matched individuals are forced together on some quest for something they each believe they need, only to discover along the way that all they really need is each other.
Many great films have worked with variations of this plot, but Leap Year brings no variation whatsoever. The story plays out like a metronome, hitting obvious beats like clockwork and generating no emotional or intellectual interest at any point.
Amy Adams plays a girl who is sick of waiting for her boyfriend to propose, so she flits off to Ireland to propose to him on the 29th of February, cos it's some Irish tradition or summat.
This idea is put to her by her father(a single-scene appearance by John Lithgow, playing it either drunk or completely insane), who she later establishes as an unreliable waster who frittered all her family's money away, making her work two jobs through her teens. So his ideas are the ones to listen to, obviously.
After a series of rushed and incredibly contrived mishaps, Amy Adams finds herself in need of a lift to Dublin, so she hires a local barman(Matthew Goode) to be her driver, because they don't have buses or taxis in backward, rural, stone-age ireland, right?
So the scene is set for a parade of ropey Oirish stereotypes, some choppy and incoherent editing and an over-reliance on pretty scenery, rendering this an arduous slog through a humourless quagmire.
Fearlessly unoriginal, "Leap Year" leaves no cliche un-wafted: The male lead's bitter and cynical front hides a soft, caramel centre, the female's intended spouse is the obvious "wrong man"(insensitive, superficial and inattentive), so nobody feels bad when he gets ditched, there is a sequence where our heroes have to pretend to be married for some contrived bull-shit reason, leading not only to uncomfortable proximity in a shared bed, but also an embarrassingly blunt scene in which they are literally forced to kiss one another by some old people at a dinner table. Plus, the emotional climax is pretty much entirely lifted from the "let's not get married" bit from the end of "Four Weddings"
Adding insult to injury is the shameful wastage of the two talented leads: Goode smirks his way through a phoned-in performance featuring one of the worst Irish accents since time immemorial, barely managing to wring out the movie's few half-chuckles with his disdainful demeanour, while the film commits the cardinal sin of making Amy Adams play a stiff.
Adams is a charming, effervescent presence on any screen, but here she is reduced to a shrill, shallow, materialistic dullard who only holds any kind of appeal at all because she's Amy fucking Adams. Which(I never thought I'd say this), just isn't enough.
In closing, I will leave you with Matthew Goode's own comments on the film, quoted from the Daily Telegraph last weekend:
"That was the main reason I took it – so that I could come home at the weekends. It wasn’t because of the script, trust me... It’s turgid... I just know that there are a lot of people who will say it is the worst film of 2010... Was it a bad job? Yes, it was. But, you know, I had a nice time and I got paid."
I got paid to watch this film, but I did not have a nice time.