Leap Year Review

I didn’t know I could hate Amy Adams that much. I didn’t know I could hate her at all.

Even after watching Julie and Julia this past weekend – a movie I would describe as anything but good – I didn’t hate Amy. In fact, I loved Amy. I just hated that her chipper, sweet, twelve year-old personality masked the monster that is Julie Powell. But then today I saw Leap Year. (In my defense, the tickets were free and it had been a rough week. I needed a little fun.)

I have this theory about romantic comedies: As long as they don’t go and try to make something “different”, they usually turn out to be moderately amusing. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be variety, but people watch these movies because they are formulaic, not despite it. Instead of trying to escape the formula with “different” they just need to stick it.

I watched The Proposal on an airplane a few months ago despite refusing to see it in theatres. It was pretty good. Not “they should win some awards” good, but good. It was funny, quirky, the characters were likable (even when they weren’t), and there was nudity. All wins.

Leap Year has some similar elements to The Proposal (and 12 other movies you’ve already seen). But unlike Sandra Bullock’s emotionally-damaged-in-her-childhood-so-she-can’t-love bitch, Amy Adams just comes across as whiny and pathetic.

She is meant to be a snooty American, with silly, materialistic dreams, and impeccable taste, but she is also meant to be a bitch. Amy Adams can’t do “bitch”. She fails. Miserably.

And then there is Ireland.  The country is intended as a character all on its own — an added touch in an effort to make this movie “different”. The landscape is beautiful and the accents are delicious, but after 10 minutes overseas I wanted to cry.

We get it. They’re Irish. Thank you, Anand Tucker, for proving to us all that you can still toss around ethnic stereotypes as long as they’re about white guys. The men of Dingle, Ireland are rural and unrefined. They have cows, and castles, and mythical rules about everything. When Anna and Declan finally get to Dublin we don’t see any other people so I can safely assume all of Ireland is about cows and superstition.

One thing that this movie has going for it is Declan (Matthew Goode) — not because he’s an even remotely good character, or showed any real talent, but simply because he’s dreamy.

The film is absurd. They use typical rom-com plot devices, bad caricature-like characters, mundane problems, grand gestures, and a moral tied up with a tight little bow at the end.

In this case, Anna (Amy Adams) needs to go to Dublin to propose to her jerky boyfriend on the 29th of February because he didn’t propose to her (at dinner, or over the last four years). It is never entirely clear why she can’t ask him any other day (I assume she bursts into flames or something) but somehow, her gesture is romantic.

Mayhem ensues, including some stepping-in-poo.

Then the usual stuff happens: boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other, boy and girl realize they have misjudged each other, boy and girl fall in love.

Finally, Anna and Declan make it to Dublin. But just as they are about to confess to each other how they really feel, Anna’s actual boyfriend shows up and proposes. How romantic and perfect.

But wait! It wasn’t romantic. It was insidious. When they’re back in Boston in their swanky new apartment that Anna wanted so badly, she discovers that he proposed because it was the only way to get her the dream apartment (the second time in the movie the idea of premarital sex was shunned). Also thrown in for good measure: Anna sets off the fire alarm to find out if her boyfriend is materialistic (just like she was 3 days before).

Of course, this means she must leave him.

I don’t know about you, but if I was in a long term relationship and my boyfriend got his act together just because I wanted an apartment desperately, I’m not sure I could be heartbroken.

The “issue” was intended to be that there was no romance in the proposal and therefore the boyfriend can’t possibly love her. But the audience was taught to hate this man from the get-go when he taunted her with giant diamond earrings instead of a ring, and then abandoned her at a restaurant to go to work. (This is also important so we don’t hate Anna and Declan when they are obviously thinking about getting it on.)

And finally, at the end of this wedding-obsessed mess, Anna rushes off to Ireland to propose a life without plans to Declan the Irish hunk. This is ironic, you see, because she used to love plans and controlling things but now love has changed her.

The big twist? Declan wants to make plans with her and he proposes! Finally, true love has prevailed. Our hearts melt.

I miss the days when all it took to make hearts melt was a prostitute heroine and an emotionally stunted millionaire.

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