In Leap Year, Anna Brady (Amy Adams) seems to have it all. Not only does she have a successful career, but she’s thisclose to moving into a prominent New York City apartment building with her handsome boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott), who also happens to be a cardiologist. Having grown up with next to nothing, image and wealth are both very important to Anna. She is getting everything she’s ever wanted… except for a proposal. Given she and Jeremy have been together for four years, she fully expects a ring on her finger, and so she is disappointed when, during a romantic dinner, he gives her a pair of beautiful diamond earrings instead.
After Jeremy leaves for a conference in Dublin, Ireland. Anna decides to follow and propose to him on leap day – February 29th – because according to an Irish tradition, any man who is proposed to on that day must accept. Unfortunately, there is a severe storm during the flight, which diverts the plane to Wales. All flights are grounded, so Anna gets on a boat instead. But the storms force the boat to stop in a small village called Dingle, and it’s there she meets a surly innkeeper named Declan (Matthew Goode). He’s in need of money to save the inn, so he agrees to drive Anna to Dublin. The two are instantly at each other’s throats, but circumstances and plain bad luck keep them side by side as they try to make their way to Dublin. Along the way, they begin to warm to one another, and Anna finds herself questioning what it is she really needs, and wants, in her life.
I really do adore Amy Adams in just about everything. She’s one of the most talented, gifted actors working today. But it was actually Matthew Goode who made this movie bearable for me. His Irish isn’t the best, but that was easy enough to overlook because he was able to take some truly ridiculous moments and make them genuinely funny. As Declan and Anna are dealing with a crowd of cows blocking the road, Anna inadvertently causes Declan’s crappy, rusty car to start rolling backward down a steep hill. Not terribly funny, but Declan’s appalled reaction to his “baby” quickly rolling out of his grasp was one of the only laugh out loud moments of this movie for me. His constant mocking of Anna, her Louis Vitton luggage, which he calls Louie, and her romanticized view of the leap year tradition keeps the movie from delving deep into cornball mush.
Goode plays Declan as snarky and cynical, but with just the right amount of warmth and vulnerability that for all of his jokes and provocations, he never seems like a jerk. Anna doesn’t seem used to men being playful or teasing, or even questioning her choices, as unyielding as they are. For the most part, Anna is uptight, occasionally rude and fairly ungrateful to Declan when things don’t go her way. But Amy Adams is well, Amy Adams, and she is probably the sole reason why Anna had any semblance of likeability. Adams can take a character like Anna and give her enough depth to make you sympathize with her, and by the end of the movie, both she and Declan are able to show one another their true selves without it feeling like a complete one-eighty.
Leap Year sticks hard to the tried and true rom-com playbook, hitting on every possible trope you could imagine. Including the very familiar and comfortable scenario where our leading man and heroine have to share a bed… because of… circumstances! I recently read three rom-com novels with that very same scenario. Now I’ve said this before in prior reviews – I don’t mind rom-com cliches. I don’t mind tropes. In fact, a handful of them I absolutely love. But they need to be executed properly. Even better? Try to bring something fresh to the genre. But Leap Year just felt completely uninspired to me. I might have felt differently if it had been funny, but so many of the moments meant to be humorous just fell flat.
Don’t get me wrong, Leap Year wasn’t a completely terrible movie. I found it watchable and romantic enough to tolerate the flaws. Honestly, it speaks to Adams and Goode’s strengths as actors that I actually cared about the outcome of their romance, despite the tedious journey it took to get there.